Friday, March 07, 2014

Match Day 1: Title Defense Begins

By the time KC takes the field tomorrow in Seattle against the Sounders to start the 2014 MLS season, it will have been just 91 days since Sporting KC lifted the 2013 MLS Cup. They were the last ones off the field in 2013 and will be one of the first teams back on it as they and the Sounders are the first game of the 2014 season.

The Sounders made a number of roster changes from last season. They'll have a new starting goalkeeper after parting ways with Michael Gspurning. The likely starter is Stefan Frei who came over from Toronto, but Sigi Schmid has not ruled out starting veteran Marcus Hahnemann. They've also seen changes over the rest of the field too, bringing in long time Columbus Crew defender, Chad Marshall, Chicago Fire defender Jalil Anibaba, and acquired former Fire midfielder Marco Pappa via allocation. On the other hand they've seen the departure of Eddie Johnson to DC. One question for Seattle tomorrow will be what role designated player Clint Dempsey will play. Schmid said the US international will play a role, but he's missed all of preseason while playing with Fulham and traveled from Cyprus where he was with the US team. So him playing isn't a surprise, but it'll be interesting to see how much he plays.

While Seattle has made a number of roster changes, Kansas City has done the opposite. Ahead of tomorrow's game KC has only brought in three new players this year, Andy Gruenebaum, Sal Zizzo, and third round draft pick, Alex Martinez. The rest of the roster is returning from last year. That cohesion should play to Kansas City's advantage tomorrow in the opener. But KC also has one eye on Wednesday when Sporting will take on Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League. With an eye towards that a few first team players could rest ahead of the game. Specifically some of KC's players struggling with early season injuries. Chance Myers, Paulo Nagamura, and Seth Sinovic are all listed as questionable. I doubt that all three of them will play in the game tomorrow.

Gardner - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Rosell - Olum
Zusi - Dwyer - Zizzo

Key Match Up - Dom Dwyer vs Chad Marshall - With Bunbury gone, Dwyer probably has the most speed of any of KC's forwards. I think Peter Vermes goes with that little extra speed against Seattle's back line and saves Claudio Bieler for Wednesday against Cruz Azul.

Number to Remember - 1 - That's the number of wins KC has against Seattle since they came into the league. The lone win came in the teams' fist meeting when Davy Arnaud scored from long range as KC won 1-0. Since then it's been all Seattle, including a number of games where they've scored the winner late, including last year at Sporting Park.

PREDICTION - It's crazy that the season is already here and that KC is back in action. But the big thing that KC has going for it is the familiarity of the player son the team. While some lineup changes may occur, the majority of the roster knows Vermes' system already and has played at least a year under it and know what to expect. That will be the big thing that helps KC early on this year. Hopefully they can take advantage of it tomorrow on the road. But I think taking a point out of Seattle again is a good expectation.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
SEA - 1 (Martins)


Anonymous said...

Of course there's that Open Cup win too

Mike said...

Open Cup game officially went down as a draw that was won on PKs. So technically it's still only 1.