Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CCL Match Day 2: South of the Border

Sporting KC continues it's busy start to the season with a trip south of the border to Mexico City where tomorrow they'll take on Cruz Azul. Sporting KC travel to the capital with a 1-0 lead on aggregate thanks to the Kevin Ellis goal last week. This time though KC travel into a hostile environment at altitude looking to advance to the CCL semifinals.

Cruz Azul is heading into the game with a couple holes to fill due to suspensions. In the midfield they will be without Alejandro Castro and in defense they'll be short Rogelio Chavez. Both of whom picked up yellow cards in Kansas City and are suspended for this game. Castro's midfield role may be the bigger one to fill for the Machine with their depth. But they'll still have their first team attack for the most part which will cause KC a number of problems. In league play this weekend, Cruz Azul picked up a 2-1 win at home over fellow quarterfinalist, Tijuana.

Kansas City comes in on the back of their 1-1 draw with Dallas at home, allowing the late equalizer. From following Twitter tonight, Sporting has traveled with the majority of their first team, which is really what I think everyone expected. The one exception to that is Seth Sinovic who is suspended for the game due to yellow card accumulation. KC does get Aurelien Collin back from suspension though to slot into central defense with Matt Besler. The question for KC is whether Peter Vermes will alter his strategy at all with the game at altitude, KC looked extremely tired by the end of the home leg. They'll need to hold a little bit back or else they'll burn out earlier at altitude.

Ellis - Collin - Besler - Gardner
Nagamura - Rosell
Zusi - Bieler - Peterson

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Mariano Pavone - Pavone is going to see a lot of the ball tomorrow. It will likely require a strong effort from Collin to contain the Argentine.

Number to Remember - 0 - That's the number of home and away series that MLS has won against Mexican sides when the second leg has been in Mexico. Only twice have MLS teams won a home and away series against a Mexican side, and both of those saw the MLS side advance with the second leg at the MLS' home stadium.

PREDICTION - This is no easy task at all for Kansas City heading into Mexico City. They have a strong team and have so far sacrificed some league form to put their best foot forward in the CCL. The question is whether that is going to be enough against a very good Cruz Azul side. I want to say that it will be, but I'm not so sure. My feeling is that Cruz Azul is going to score one goal in the first half and another goal in the early second half. The last 10 minutes will be hectic as Sporting looks for the one goal that will see them go through, but it doesn't come and KC bows out.

SKC - 0
CA - 2 (Fabian, Pavone)


Nathan Martin said...

With Cruz fielding backups at FB, I'd be more suprised that JP gets the nod than if Chavez and/or Pinto were available: both among leaders on team in passes & key passes.

The 2 packages I've thought about include CJ:

1. CJ Bieler Zizzo w/Zusi in mid

2. CJ Dwyer Zusi w/ Feilhaber in mid.

Only Besler (270) has gone more minutes than Feilhaber's 255 with Zizzo next at only 182 minutes.

Just not sure can afford to start Bieler & Feilhaber at same time.

Optimistic that will have every chance to get 1 goal. Worry more about 3-1 than 2-0, although both certainly possible.

hartley said...

The only change I foresee from your projected lineup is putting Ellis at left back and Jerome at right back if Myers is still not fit.

I think you are giving up the tie if you start Gardner. Maybe he comes on as a sub when the opposition is getting tired legs. But not to start. He will get burned.