Monday, August 18, 2014

CCL Match Day 1 - The Campaign Begins

Sporting Kansas City begin another competition in this year's season. Tomorrow night in Nicaragua Sporting take on Real Esteli. It's the second straight year that Sporting will take on the Nicaraguan champions. Last year Sporting KC went 1-0-1 against Esteli, winning 2-0 in Nicaragua and drawing 1-1 at home.

This year, Esteli and KC's other opponent, Deportivo Saprissa have already kicked off play a few weeks ago. Esteli took an early lead against Saprissa before conceding a second half equalizer. Esteli is far and away the best team in Nicaragua, winning the last seven season titles (two seasons a year, fall and spring). They are also 3-0 so far in their current season. Their match up last weekend against fellow undefeated club, Walter Ferretti was postponed. The Train of the North still has Rudel Calero on their roster, the 31 year old scored Esteli's goal in Kansas City in the 1-1 draw last year.

KC heads into the game with confidence after the 4-1 win over Toronto on the weekend. The long travel was done today as the team flew down to Nicaragua. They will be without one player who one would assume was going to play a role in tomorrow's game. Claudio Bieler apparently has passport issues and was unable to travel with the team to Nicaragua. With Dom Dwyer getting the vast majority of the league minutes, one would have assumed Bieler was a likely candidate to start the game tomorrow to give Dwyer a bit of a rest. With Bieler unable to travel, the question is whether Dwyer will start again at forward, or whether someone like CJ Sapong starts there. The game will be interesting to see who Peter Vermes rests ahead of a big Eastern Conference match up this weekend against DC United.

Peterson - Collin - Ellis - Sinovic
Lopez - Feilhaber
Dovale - Dwyer - Sapong

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Rudel Calero - In KC's first match vs Esteli last year, Esteli didn't provide much going forward. After watching their game against Saprissa a few weeks ago, I think Esteli will be more difficult this time for KC offensively.

Number to Remember - 0 - That's the number of wins that Esteli has in the CCL. The Nicaraguan side is 0-9-4 in the current incarnation of the federation competition. All but one of their draws (their 1-1 draw with KC last year) have come at home.

PREDICTION - The Esteli draw with Saprissa could be huge for KC if they can get a win where Saprissa failed. It's not going to be easy with the game falling between two important league games, but KC is the best road team in the league and even in an environment like the one in Esteli, KC still should feelgood about their chances heading into tomorrow's game.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Dovale)
RE - 1 (Calero)

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