Saturday, August 09, 2014

Match Day 23 - Back on the Road

Sporting KC are back on the road as they continue through the second half of the season. They'll look to continue their club record five game road winning streak tomorrow when they take on the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place. This will be only the fifth meeting between the two clubs, and the third in Vancouver since the Whitecaps entered the league in 2011.

The Whitecaps are currently sitting in 6th place in the Western Conference with a 6-4-11 record. Like the Chicago Fire this year, Vancouver has struggled to get all three points at time this year. They're also heading into tomorrow's game having drawn their last four games. Since early May, the Whitecaps have won just once at home, a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. In that stretch, the Whitecaps are 1-1-3 at BC Place. Their offense though is one that can cause KC a number of problems. Darren Mattocks can cause KC plenty of issues with his speed as the lone striker in Vancouver's 4-2-3-1 formation. But their biggest danger man will be Pedro Morales, he leads the Whitecaps in both goals (7) and assists (8). Morales, the Chilean attacking midfielder has done quite well since joining the Whitecaps from Malaga and will cause a lot of trouble for KC's midfield and defense.

Kansas City's road winning streak may be one of the more impressive things about this season. For me, someone who has been going on road trips to watch KC play since 2005 and didn't see the team actually win on a road trip until 2011, it's amazing that KC has won more road games in a row than they did in entire seasons in the past. KC gets Matt Besler back for this game as he'll return from his one game suspension and will likely slot right back in the middle of defense with Aurelien Collin. With Lawrence Olum returning from international duty his availability is in question for tomorrow, I'd expect Jorge Claros to again play the position. The other question will be Seth Sinovic's availability, he missed last weekend's game against Philadelphia with injury, but is not listed on this week's injury report. With a number of games still to play this season, I'd rest Sinovic one more game and either have Jacob Peterson play there again or Kevin Ellis slot in at left back.

Juliao - Collin - Besler - Ellis
Claros - Lopez
Peterson - Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - 0 - That's the number of losses that Vancouver has this year against teams in the Eastern Conference. The Whitecaps are 3-0-5 this year against the East heading into the game against KC.

Key Match Up - Jorge Claros vs Pedro Morales - Morales is likely to sit in right in front of Collin and Besler. It's going to fall on the Honduran to basically shadow the Chilean playmaker tomorrow and limit his touches on the ball. This match up is the other reason that I'd start Claros over a returning Olum. I think Claros has more mobility to handle the job of dealing with Morales than Olum does.

PREDICTION - KC has the confidence heading into this game, eight games unbeaten and five games on the road wins in a row will do that. KC's four All Stars all survived Wednesday and had short travel up to Vancouver that avoided unnecessary travel back to KC so they shouldn't be overly worn out. The Whitecaps will be fresh as well for the game, not having a game last weekend. Honestly with the Whitecaps record and KC's current unbeaten run, this game has draw written al over it.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
VAN - 1 (Mattocks)

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