Friday, October 25, 2013

Sporting Can Only Worry About What They Can Control in Season Finale

Sporting Kansas City end the regular season tomorrow afternoon in Philadelphia, the same place they started the 2013 season. The began the season with a win against the Union, and they'll be looking to end the season the same way. A win against the Union would, at least temporarily, give Sporting KC the lead in the Supporters' Shield race, and would force the New York Red Bulls to win their season finale on Sunday against the Chicago Fire. And while it's tempting to think about that happening, Sporting need to focus on their game alone at this point. Sporting has to find away their current goal scoring woes. In the month of October, Sporting has scored just two goals, one by defender Ike Opara, the other by Dom Dwyer. While Sporting has picked it up defensively, not allowing a goal in the month, the team is going to need to score eventually if they have championship aspirations. While Sporting's lone MLS Cup has come from a stellar defensive effort, they still had Miklos Molnar up top to score goals.

The Union come into the game hanging on for dear life in the playoff race. Philadelphia needs a win over Kansas City and help from Columbus and DC to book a spot in the playoffs. If that doesn't happen they'll be watching the playoffs from their couch. Their strike force of Conor Casey and Jack McInerney have combined to score 21 goals this season and will be a handful for Sporting KC to deal with. The Union will have a hole in their midfield tomorrow though. Team captain, Brian Carroll is suspended for the game due to yellow card suspension. That'll leave a hole in hole in Philadelphia's midfield, in a position that Graham Zusi/Benny Feilhaber could exploit.

As I mentioned earlier, Sporting KC really needs to start finding the net heading into the playoffs. None of KC's forwards are in anything that you could call "in form" without breaking into fits of laughter. In fact over the last two months, CJ Sapong is the leading scorer for KC with three goals, and he hasn't scored since KC's 2-1 win over Toronto on 9/21. On Wednesday, Peter Vermes threw a number of first team players out in the 0-0 draw against Olimpia. Even with that, I'd expect KC's best eleven to be on the field when the game starts tomorrow. The only question is whether Vermes will go with more of a two defensive midfielder set up with Peterson Joseph next to Oriol Rosell, or start Feilhaber alongside Zusi.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Feilhaber - Zusi
Saad - Dwyer - Sapong

Number to Remember - 3 - Three points, get three points, force New York to get all three of them on Sunday.

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin/Matt Besler vs Conor Casey/Jack McInerney - As I mentioned earlier, Philly's forwards have a combined 21 goals this season. Sporting has yet to allow one this month and to continue that, Sporting's central defenders will have to shut down the Philadelphia attackers.

PREDICTION - Sporting can only take care of their own game. Just win tomorrow and on Sunday sit back and hope the Fire can steal a point or three on the road. But the key is to put the pressure right back on the Red Bulls. KC also has to have a little bit of revenge on their minds after Philadelphia's 1-0 win in KC a month ago. KC controlled that game, but a goal against the run of play saw Philly claim all three points. Hopefully KC can return that favor tomorrow, but I don't feel confident about it with the recent goal scoring woes.

SKC - 0
PHI - 0

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