Thursday, September 11, 2014

Match Day 29 - Need to Break the Streak

Tomorrow's game against Chivas USA isn't a "must win" for Sporting KC, in the sense that a loss here doesn't eliminate Sporting KC from the playoffs, or resign them to playing in the play in game even. But from the aspect of confidence and mentality heading into the final run of the season, and to calm down Sporting fans that are starting to get frustrated, this may as well be one. After losing four straight games, Kansas City needs to find some form.

Chivas may be the perfect team for Sporting to play right now. They have scored just two goals in their last eight games, and those two goals came in a 4-2 loss to Seattle and are winless in their last nine games. And they'll have to play Sporting KC tomorrow without their leading scorer, Erick Torres, who will begin a two game suspension for a red card he picked up against the LA Galaxy after he missed the last two games while on national team duty with Mexico. Torres has scored 14 of Chivas' 23 goals this year, and only two other players on their roster have scored more than a single goal this season. Meanwhile on the defensive side of the ball, Chivas have given up the third most goals in the league, behind Houston and Montreal. So on paper this looks like the perfect game for KC to break their slump.

Kansas City's troubles at the moment are numerous though. The team hasn't gotten a shutout since their 1-0 win over Portland in July. They've conceded 20 goals in that 12 game stretch, Sporting's center back pairing of Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler look tired and a bit worn out without Ike Opara to provide the occasional break. Igor Juliao looks like a 20 year old who is starting to hit a bit of a wall. Lawrence Olum's passing has left a lot to be desired in a position that has required a lot of passing for KC. Offensively, Dom Dwyer has continued to find net for KC, which is a bit of good news for them as he's tied the club record for goals in a season. Tomorrow against Chivas it's a question of how much rest Peter Vermes is considering for some tired legs with two Champions League games at home coming up next week. KC though needs to get back on track in MLS play, and at this point that has to take precedent over the CCL.

Juliao - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Claros - Nagamura
Saad - Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - 11 - That's the number of goals that both teams have given up over their last four league games, all losses for both teams. KC has lost 3-0, 3-1, 3-1, and 2-1, while Chivas has lost 1-0, 3-0, 4-2, 3-0.

Key Match Up - KC defense vs Chivas attack - Chivas' attack has not looked good lately, but KC has been finding new ways to give up goals each game it seems, from counters, to set pieces, to PKs, to the spectacular, it seems it's a different one each game. While Chivas' attack has been less than stellar, KC's defense really needs to step it up.

PREDICTION - These are two teams that are not very good. Combined they've picked up five points since the beginning of August (14 games between the two teams). As the team that is second in the East and currently in a playoff spot, Sporting needs to be the ones that really take this game to Chivas. A loss here would be another demoralizing step for this team heading into CCL play. Really though, even with the defensive issues lately, I think KC has the fire power up front to take care of Chivas.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer x2)
CHV - 1 (Avila)

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