Monday, September 16, 2013

Champions League Returns to KC

For the first time since 2005, the CONCACAF Champions League/Cup returns for a game in Kansas City. KC last played a home game in this competition at a near empty Arrowhead Stadium, with just over 1,200 people in attendance to watch the Wizards take on Costa Rican side, Deportivo Saprissa. The game ended in a 0-0 draw and KC went out 2-1 on aggregate. Tomorrow night KC will look for a different result as they host Nicaraguan side, Real Esteli.

Esteli comes into the game not officially eliminated yet, but would need to win their two remaining games, both on the road, and then hope that Olimpia can beat KC on the road to level everyone on 6 points and hope to win the tie breaker. El Tren del Norte have still yet to win in the competition, and have yet to even record a point on the road in the three previous trips into this competition. In their previous times in this tournament Esteli has lost all four away games, scoring just one goal, while allowing eight goals.

With that in mind KC should really have no business allowing Esteli to hang around tomorrow, score early, score often. A win won't clinch advancement to the knockout rounds for Sporting KC but it would force Olimpia to win it's last two games, including coming to KC and beating KC by three goals. Sporting come into the game well rested as well, having last weekend off from league play. KC does have a league game this weekend in Toronto, but with the game on Tuesday the players will get some rest. I'd expect KC to go with another mixed lineup with some starters getting some time while reserves getting a run out as well.

Jerome - Opara - Besler - Bessone
Rosell - Olum
Sapong - Bunbury - Saad

Number to Remember - 4038 - That's the number of days it's been since Chris Brown scored against Morelia in the semifinals of the 2002 CONCACAF Champions Cup, the last goal that KC scored at home in this competition.

Key Match Up - Sporting forwards vs Esteli defense - In the first game these two teams played Esteli looked extremely susceptible to KC's size, at least early on. KC exploited their size on the first goal. Sapong or Bunbury could have a good game if the crosses are coming in well enough.

PREDICTION - I said when KC won in Olimpia that anything less now than advancement is a disappointment for Sporting. Tomorrow is KC's chance to take a big step towards advancement. Esteli really isn't that good of a side. In their first match up, Esteli looked like the worst team KC had played this year (that includes the Des Moines Menace in the Open Cup). While they looked better at home against Olimpia, there's still no reason to think KC shouldn't easily take care of business tomorrow. They can't underestimate Esteli, but I can't see them doing that. The question is whether KC will really step on the neck once they get the lead.

SKC - 4 (Saad x2, Sapong, Bunbury)
RE - 0

1 comment:

hartley said...

I must say, I would be surprised and a little frustrated to see Bunbury start ahead of Dwyer. Dom has showed something every time out. Is Teal really in full-game shape?

I would also be surprised but not disappointed to see our new left back start. PV isn't one to put out a new player at first chance -- at least not for a start. But it would be nice to give both Sinovic and Myers a rest going into the stretch run in league play.

I am looking forward to an entertaining pounding of the opposition. Let's "De-Rail Esteli."