Sporting Kansas City enter the final month of the regular season tomorrow in Columbus when they take on the Crew. Clinching a playoff birth is in sight right now for KC, but they have to have their goals aimed higher. Sitting second in the East right now KC is only 4 points clear of fourth place Houston. Getting something out of the game tomorrow is important.
The Crew though will not be an easy match for Sporting. The Crew are fighting for their playoff lives, currently outside looking in, in sixth place. They're one point behind the fifth place Philadelphia Union. Columbus though is in extremely good form at the moment. Since Brian Bliss took over as head coach of the Crew, Columbus has just lost a single game, 3-0 in Kansas City in September. They are 4-1 in the five games since Bliss took over. In their four wins, Columbus has scored 11 and given up three. They'll have Federico Higuain available for this game after missing the game in KC in September and also have September's MLS player of the month, Dominic Oduro on the forward line.
Kansas City comes in having been extremely lackluster in the last two games, the win in Toronto and the loss to Philadelphia both left a lot to be desired. The finishing issues that have haunted KC for much of the last few years returned in full force against Philadelphia. It's an issue that KC really needs to address, it seems the longer they go without scoring, the more likely they are to not get a result. As for tomorrow, Sporting KC will be without midfielder, Oriol Rosell, who picked up his 8th yellow card of the season last week against Philadelphia and will serve his second yellow card accumulation suspension of the season. Claudio Bieler, Aurelien Collin, and Benny Feilhaber are all within a yellow of suspension themselves as well. The yellow cards are starting to mount up for Sporting KC late on. With Rosell suspended and Paulo Nagamura still battling an ankle injury, it would seem Lawrence Olum is set to start as the holding midfielder for KC tomorrow. The big question is whether Matt Besler and Soony Saad will return to the starting lineup. Besler has played just twice for KC since the end of August, three games overall. Saad, after impressing as a starter has made way for Jacob Peterson the last two games.
Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Feilhaber - Zusi
Saad - Bieler - Sapong
Number to Remember - 3 - KC needs to worry about what they can control. While they can clinch a playoff spot this weekend with some help, the thing they have to worry about is getting three points on the road against a very hungry Crew team.
Key Match Up - Lawrence Olum vs Federico Higuain - Higuain is going to look to sit just in front of the KC defensive line right behind the midfielders. That's likely going to mean that Olum is going to have to drop a little bit to help cover so Higuain does not have that space to play with.
PREDICTION - Form wise this game goes to Columbus, the Crew is just in better form than KC recently. While KC has gotten results, the Crew have been the more impressive side since Bliss took over as head coach. KC needs to get a result out of this game, not only to keep pace in case New York win, but also to keep some space between them and fourth place in the East and potentially having to play a play in game. I'm just not sure I see KC getting the win.
SKC - 1 (Sapong)
CLB - 2 (Higuain, Oduro)