Friday, July 18, 2014

Match Day 20 - Looking for Some Home Form

Sporting KC are the defending MLS Cup champions. Tomorrow at Sporting KC welcome the winner of the previous two MLS Cups, the LA Galaxy to Sporting Park. Kansas City will be looking for their first win at home since early May when KC beat the Columbus Crew 2-0. Since then they have played four games at home, getting a loss and three draws in those four games. With KC's continued want to have Sporting Park be a fortress, this current string of games combined with the team's general history at Sporting Park is disappointing for the team as a whole. The team can't continue to rely on their road form to carry them, they're going to need to start picking up wins at home.

The Galaxy come into Sporting Park on a nice unbeaten run, having not lost in eight league games. They extended it to eight games on Wednesday night when they destroyed the New England Revolution 5-1. Their offense is really clicking with Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes both scoring two goals on Wednesday night. And they still have Landon Donovan in the team, one of those players who has really hurt KC over the years, he has 13 league goals against KC in his distinguished career in MLS. The one area where the Galaxy have struggled this year is in defense, specifically in their wide positions. They got even thinner on Wednesday when Dan Gargan was red carded for a denial of a goal scoring opportunity foul on Teal Bunbury. That means that Gargan will miss tomorrow's game against KC, leaving LA with few options in defense, an area that KC needs to exploit.

Sporting will be relieved that the independent group that reviewed Aurelien Collin's red card rescinded it, allowing the Frenchman to play tomorrow partnering Matt Besler in central defense. Kansas City should also welcome back Graham Zusi to the starting 11 after not playing on Wednesday night against the Crew, being given the night off by Peter Vermes. Zusi's rest is going to be key for Sporting KC tomorrow, him and if Toni Dovale starts should both be causing a number of issues for the Galaxy defense, especially wide, which as I said is a current weak point for the Galaxy defense. With the way that KC likes to attack down the wings there could be a lot of space for whoever KC starts wide to operate against the Galaxy.

Juliao - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Olum - Feilhaber
Sapong - Dwyer - Dovale

Number to Remember - 3 - That's how many more wins Sporting has on the road (6) than they do at home (3). KC is 6-4 at home this year and currently sit 3-1-5 at home. While they only have the one loss, KC has left another 10 points on the table with all those draws this year. KC really needs to start picking up all 3 points at home.

Key Match Up - KC Wingers vs Galaxy wingbacks - As I mentioned, the Galaxy are hurting when it comes to their wingbacks. KC has shown, especially lately that they are going to spend a lot of time attacking the wings. This could be a great game for KC in that regard. If CJ Sapong gets another start he also provides a big body in the box to help Dom Dwyer against the likes of Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo.

PREDICTION - This game is all dependent on how the Galaxy choose to play. Are they going to come in and sit back like the Chicago Fire do when they come here, or are they going to come out and try to push KC like the Portland Timbers have done to great success at Sporting Park the last few years. I honestly think with the Galaxy's attacking ability they are going to come out and play more against KC, Bruce Arena really hasn't shown with the Galaxy that he's the type to really sit back. The question is going to be whether KC can exploit the space that this creates. In the end this game is going to come down to whether KC can take advantage of the openings they're going to get with the Galaxy's issues in the back. If they can they should be able to take all three points.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Zusi)
LA - 1 (Zardes)

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