Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Match Day 10: Saying Goodbye to the International Duo

Sporting KC will say goodbye tomorrow to their international duo, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi after KC's game against the Philadelphia Union. The game will be the last one before the two report to the US team ahead of the 2014 World Cup. Assuming the two make the final 23, they will miss six games in May and June, likely returning after KC's game against Portland in late June. Before that though they'll hope to keep KC's current run of form going.

The Union come into the game in a lot of trouble. Philadelphia has not just lost their last three games, but they are now winless in their last nine games. Their only win on the season was back in March when they beat the New England Revolution 1-0 at home. In the last few games they have picked it up defensively, after allowing two goals a game over the course of three games, the last four they've allowed just one, with Zac MacMath stepping up his game in goal, including a PK save in Seattle.

Kansas City meanwhile comes in on a much better run of form. They've lost just one of their last eight league games. And even with the retirement of Jimmy Nielsen, the defense has barely missed a beat. Over the course of the entire season, KC has allowed just two goals from the run of play all year (Chad Barrett for Seattle and Teal Bunbury for New England). The other four goals that KC has allowed this year have come from set pieces or the penalty spot. Eric Kronberg has been playing quite well in KC's net. Even though I've had issues with some of his play you can't argue with results and four shutouts in the last five games speak well for Kronberg and his defense.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Nagamura - Rosell
Peterson - Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - 0 - That's the number of wins that the home team had in this series back in 2013. KC won the two matches in Philadelphia 3-1 and 2-1, but lost the one home game 1-0.

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Conor Casey - A physical match up again for Aurelien Collin in central defense. Casey scored the lone goal in Philly's 1-0 win in KC last year. Collin will get the responsibility of shutting down the forward.

PREDICTION - This is a classic trap game coming up. KC is coming in off of the back of probably their most dominating performance of the season on the road in Montreal. They're playing a Philadelphia team that is getting desperate for a result, with a coach who could be on his way out the door if results don't turn around. There's also an air of expectation for KC to get the win and send Besler and Zusi to the US national team in style. This just has the feel of one of those games that could come back to bite KC.

I'm not sure it will though. The potential is there, but KC has just been playing too well lately. While Dom Dwyer's scoring against teams not named Montreal hasn't been great, the confidence that he's gotten in those games needs to transition to games against other teams. While the game is definitely a trap game, KC's talent should be able to see them past the Union.

SKC - 1 (Zusi)
PHI - 0

1 comment:

hartley said...

I agree that this could really be a trap game -- a let down after the "easy" win at Montreal.

BTW -- I would like to hear more of your viewpoint on Kronberg so far this season. He obviously does some things differently than Jimmy. And at times the communication hasn't been there -- which has led to giving away goals.

Also, I am actually looking forward to seeing how the team responds without Zusi and Besler. This is an opportunity for some players to step up and make the season really great.