Friday, August 15, 2014

Match Day 24 - Injury Issues Continue for Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City will put out their 24th different starting lineup in 24 MLS games tomorrow when KC welcomes Toronto FC to Sporting Park. The injury issues for KC has continued throughout much of the season and has now hit the goalkeeping position hard. After losing Eric Kronberg for two months with a broken bone in his hand, KC lost back up Andy Gruenebaum for at least tomorrow's game and Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League game with a shoulder injury. That means that KC's first home grown player, Jon Kempin will start his first MLS game tomorrow. He'll become the 29th player to start a league game for KC this year, and the 30th in all competitions.

Toronto heads into KC on the back of two straight wins away from home, beating Montreal and Columbus on the second and third of a four game road trip. They've done it without leading goalscorer, Jermain Defoe who has missed the last few games with a groin injury. Defoe's status for tomorrow's game is up in the air. Originally it was thought his injury would keep him out, but late this week, it was reported that Defoe may play a part in tomorrow's game. If he can go, that definitely changes the approach that Sporting will take defensively to this game. Even without Defoe, Toronto's other strikers are starting to find some form through Gilberto and Luke Moore.

With Kempin in goal for his first MLS start, a lot more pressure is going to be on KC's starting center backs Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin. Through their partnership, they've usually had an experienced or veteran keeper in goal. From Jimmy Nielsen and Andy Gruenebaum's experience to Eric Kronberg's veteran presence, Collin and Besler have had an experienced goalkeeper to help organize behind them. While I have faith that Kempin will do fine, his lack of experience will require Besler and Collin to really step up their defensive work. KC has other things to question heading into tomorrow. Seth Sinovic's troubles lately. In his last two games, at Toronto and at Vancouver, Sinovic has had probably his two worst games in a KC uniform, getting beat for speed regularly. With Toronto likely to come at Sinvoic through Dominic Oduro again hopefully Sinovic is fully healthy and ready to go. The other question is Dom Dwyer's form. KC's leading scorer hasn't scored a goal in the last five games for KC, since the team's 2-1 win over Montreal. While the rest of the team has picked up the slack some, Dwyer needs to start finding the net again for KC to continue to be successful.

Juliao - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Olum - Claros
Dovale - Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - 7 - That's the number of games in a row that KC has gone without a shutout. For a team like KC that has been solid defensively.

Key Match Up - Seth Sinovic vs Dominic Oduro - In KC's last game against Toronto at BMO Field, Oduro owned this match up. Of all the attacks that Toronto made in that game, pretty much all the successful ones game through Oduro going at or past Sinovic or down the left side. Sinovic is going to need to be much better for KC tomorrow or Oduro will have a field day again against him.

PREDICTION - The last match up between these two teams was won by KC, but Toronto was most certainly the better team. KC will need to improve their performance not just from last week, but from the last three. KC really hasn't looked good since the 2-1 win over LA. While they've gone 1-1-1 in the three games since they easily could have lost both of those road games and didn't deserve to get the win in their one home game against the Union. KC really needs to step up with a dominating performance, if not on the scoreboard, on the field. The team needs to show that they are still the class of the East. Getting a win against Toronto, will help to establish this point, and create some more space between them and the rest of the East.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Zusi)
TFC - 1 (Moore)

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