Friday, April 25, 2014

Match Day 7: A Playoff Rematch

Sporting Kansas City travel to the East Coast this weekend for a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals with the New England Revolution. Gillette Stadium has been a friendly face for Kansas City to visit throughout the history of the stadium. KC is 8-3-6 there in league play, and 8-4-7 in all competitions. Sporting did lose their last trip there though, falling 2-1 in the first leg before winning the second leg in extra time 3-1.

New England comes into this game with a little bit of trouble depth wise. The team is without a number of potential starters for this game. Kevin Alston is suspended after picking up a red card at the end of the Revolution's 1-1 draw in Chicago. They'll also be without captain Jose Goncalves and midfielder Kelyn Rowe are both injured and will miss the game. Along with that, forward Saer Sene has been given leave this week from the team. On top of all that, the Revs teenage star, Diego Fagundez could miss the game with a back injury. That's five potential starters, almost half of the Revs starting lineup that could be missing, a big blow for the Revs. They will have former KC forward Teal Bunbury leading the line, although he's yet to score this season.

Kansas City will welcome back Oriol Rosell to the team after he sat out the 4-0 win over Montreal after his red card. He'll likely go right back into the starting lineup. The question will be who for. Is it a straight like for like switch with Lawrence Olum making way. Or does Olum drop back to partner Matt Besler in central defense? That question arises depending on the health of Aurelien Collin who left the win over Montreal early with a hamstring. Peter Vermes has said that Collin would be available, but with a very busy month of May ahead that will include losing Besler when he joins the US team, resting Collin to make sure he doesn't hurt his hamstring worse may be a good idea. Dom Dwyer's two goal performance against the Impact earns him another start ahead of designated player, Claudio Bieler.

Myers - Olum - Besler - Sinovic
Nagamura - Rosell
Zizzo - Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - 1 - Both KC's goals against average and New England's goals scored average is under the number 1. KC is averaging .67 goals against per game after picking up 3 shutouts. All those shutouts have come at home though, they've given up three in their two away games although two were PKs. The Revs are averaging .71 goals per game.

Key Match Up - Matt Besler vs Teal Bunbury - Bunbury hasn't scored for the Revs since his trade, but his pace is something that has caused problems throughout his time with Kansas City. Besler and the rest of the KC defense can't allow Bunbury to get in behind them tomorrow.

PREDICTION  - With the goal scoring record of the Revolution, their home defense which has yet to allow a goal this season, and KC's historical issues scoring goals, this game has the chance to be as bad as last year's regular season match up between the two teams in New England. Maybe KC's offense finally turned the corner after the match up against the Impact, but I'd like a more complete body of work to know for sure. The lack of five potential starters for the Revs could be the thing that tilt the game in KC's favor though, but Sporting has traditionally played down to the level of competition, including when teams are playing without key players.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
NE - 1 (Nguyen)

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