Thursday, September 25, 2014

Match Day 30 - Battle for Second

Sporting Kansas City head back to league play tomorrow after having last weekend off between their two home Champions League games. And they return to action in a big game against the New England Revolution at Sporting Park. The Revolution sit just three points behind second place KC at the moment. Meanwhile KC sits just three points behind first place DC as the Eastern Conference playoff race gets tighter.

The Revolution head into tomorrow night's game having lost their five game winning streak last weekend in Columbus, the 1-0 loss ended the streak that included a 3-1 win over Sporting in New England earlier this month. They did it without Teal Bunbury who was suspended for the game due to yellow card accumulation. He'll be available for tomorrow's game though. The Revolution have already won the season series with KC, winning both of the games played at Gillette Stadium by a combined 5-1 scoreline. A bit of a surprise considering Kansas City's traditionally good history there. But the Revolution at the moment look to be a team in good form at just the right time of the season to make a playoff run.

Kansas City for there part could very well be rounding themselves into form as well. After four straight losses, three of them by multiple goals, KC has now won three straight in all competitions, winning all of them by multiple goals. Tomorrow though will be tougher than those previous games have been for KC. There may be some tired legs after the midweek game against Real Esteli that saw KC play a number of players you'd expect to start tomorrow. One player that looks set to miss out tomorrow is Aurelien Collin who said today that he's not sure if he'll be able to go tomorrow. If Collin can't go that puts KC in a corner when it comes to their center back position because the team will also be without Lawrence Olum who is suspended for tomorrow's game for picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. That means that either Kevin Ellis or Erik Palmer-Brown are likely to partner Matt Besler in the center of defense. In a big game like this, it'll be a challenge for either one to step up into Collin's position.

Juliao - Ellis - Belser - Sinovic
Claros - Nagamura
Zusi - Dwyer - Dovale

Number to Remember - 3 - That's the number of points separating these two teams. A loss would see Kansas City fall to third in the conference behind the Revolution and allow DC to further distance themselves from KC.

Key Match Up - Jorge Claros vs Lee Nguyen - Nguyen is having himself an MVP like season for the Revolution, leading the team with 13 goals and adding four assists. He's been playing extremely well for them this year. Being able to shut him down is key for Kansas City if they want to get a result tomorrow. That job is likely to fall on Claros defensively, with Paulo Nagamura helping out as well. Nguyen will try to operate in the space between Claros and KC's center backs, so the Honduran will need to be mindful of where he's at defensively.

PREDICTION - This should be a very good game tomorrow night. Both teams having been playing well the last few games. KC has a bit of a point to prove after the Revolution beat them 3-1 a few weeks ago. While New England is going to be looking to move up the table. The last few games Graham Zusi has been getting himself more involved in the play, if he can get involved and go at defenders like he has been lately, it'll create space for Toni Dovale and Dom Dwyer to work in up top. KC's defense will certainly be tested without Collin, but the team's play the last few games lifted morale heading into the stretch run and I think KC walks out with a close win.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Zusi)
NE - 1 (Davies)

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