Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Match Day USOC: Mindful of the Upset

It's once again time for MLS teams to join US Open Cup play. Starting last week, the fourth round of the US Open Cup kicked off. With MLS And the NASL both on breaks at this time of year, US Soccer gave teams a full week to get games in. Some teams had games last Wednesday, others had games this past Saturday, but the majority of the games were tonight and tomorrow. That includes Sporting KC taking on Minnesota United.

United comes into the game after beating the Des Moines Menace 1-0 in a game in Des Moines back on May 28th. Minnesota dominated the game but could only find the net once. Not only has Minnesota advanced to the fourth round of the US Open Cup, but Minnesota also just wrapped up the spring season title of the NASL, picking up 20 points in 9 games, one more than the New York Cosmos, giving Minnesota a birth in the NASL playoffs after the end of the fall season. United has the league's joint leading scorer and league leader in assists, Christian Ramirez.

Kansas City continues to struggle with injury issues and absences during the World Cup break. No word on Aurelien Collin, but most fans at this point seem to hope that he's been shut down until MLS play kicks off again later this month. The same could potentially be said for Igor Juliao. In midfield, both Benny Feilhaber and Paulo Nagamura are recovering from injuries picked up against the Houston Dynamo. From quotes Peter Vermes has made, he looks set to hold them out as well so that they are ready for the return of MLS play. That would leave KC quite short in the midfield for the game as well. With the break though KC can put out a number of regular starting 11 players while also giving time to other players, like Andy Gruenebaum.

Juliao - Palmer-Brown - Ellis - Sinovic
Martinez - Medranda
Dovale - Bieler - Saad

Number to Remember - 0 - That's the number of NASL teams that KC has played in the US Open Cup. It's also the number of wins that Kansas City has over teams from Minnesota in the US Open Cup. KC lost to the Thunder 3-1 in 2005. Then in 2009 the two teams met up again, with KC drawing 3-3, but going through 4-2 on penalty kicks against the Thunder for a 0-1-1 record against those teams.

Key Match Up - KC Defense vs Christian Ramirez - Ramirez is going to be a handful for KC's back line, and with it likely to be Erik Palmer-Brown and Kevin Ellis again in central defense, Ramirez is going to be a handful to deal with.

PREDICTION - Both team are on a break from league play, so both teams should be putting out a very strong team with only a few exceptions. KC's continued depleted roster continues to be a concern. The game tomorrow is going to be an extremely tough game for KC against a very good Minnesota side that will be thinking upset after three NASL teams have knocked off MLS sides already. I'm just not sure that KC's depth is going to be enough to carry them through this one.

SKC - 1 (Bieler)
MNU - 2 (Ramirez, Daley)

No comments: