Saturday, October 25, 2014

Match Day 34 - Looking for Some Form

Heading into the final league game of the season Sporting Kansas City is looking to find some semblance of the form that they had earlier in the season and last season. Sporting has really struggled the second half of this season. Of the playoff teams, Kansas City has probably the worst record in the last 10 games, only 3-6-1 in those games heading into tomorrow's game against New York. The game is of huge importance to both teams as both are trying to find a way to finish in third place and avoid next week's play in game. New York needs to win and hop Columbus don't win, while just a win will guarantee the third seed for Kansas City.

New York comes into this game having lost last week to the Columbus Crew  3-1, a disappointing result against a fellow playoff team, especially at home. Like KC, New York had a midweek game, but unlike KC, the game was meaningless for New York who was already eliminated from advancing in the Champions League. Tomorrow's game could very well be a big turning point for New York, it could be the last regular season game in MLS for both Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill as Henry is out of contract and Cahill has been discontent this year, so this could be the final league game for both of New York's DPs. The Red Bulls are still dangerous with the likes of Henry and the likely golden boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Kansas City is a hurt, tired, run down team at this point. They'll be playing their third game in nine days in three different cities tomorrow after trips to Philadelphia, San Jose, and Kansas City, at least four players who started in the first two games will likely start the third. There's also the possibility of another player being added to that list if Matt Besler is not able to return. They'll also be going into the game with more injuries, as Benny Feilhaber is set to miss the game after turning his ankle against Saprissa. Kansas City will also have to deal with a makeshift right back as Igor Juliao is suspended and Jacob Peterson will likely be the one to fill in for him.

Peterson - Collin - Ellis - Sinovic
Olum - Nagamura
Zizzo - Dwyer - Dovale

Number to Remember - 0 - Since July 19th, when Sporting KC beat Los Angeles 2-1, Sporting KC has gone 0-4-1 against playoff teams (if Vancouver defeates Colorado tonight KC's record will fall to 0-5-1). On the season KC only has four wins in 15 games against playoff teams. Sporting's record has just not been good enough against the top of the table.

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin/Jacob Peterson vs Bradley Wright-Phillips - I expect Peterson to fill in for the suspended Igor Juliao at right back. Earlier this year in Kansas City, Bradley Wright-Phillips found space between Juliao and Aurelien Collin and was able to exploit it and scored a goal against KC to earn a 1-1 draw. With a player who hasn't spent a lot of time at outside back, Collin is going to need to be communicating with his right back a lot to make sure the two stay in synch.

PREDICTION - New York is not good on the road, with only two wins away from home this year. Meanwhile KC is not that great of a team at home, having a 6-4-6 record at Sporting Park. For me this game has a draw written all over it. Kansas City is going to have a lot of tired legs from Thursday nigh in Costa Rica. That'll lead to some mistakes for the back line. New York though is poor defensively and will leave space for Kansas City to exploit. Unfortunately with all of KC's issues defensively and the makeshift back line, I am not sure that KC is going to be able to stop KC's attack. And with Columbus playing Philadelphia at home I expect these two teams will likely meet again mid-week in the play-in game.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Zusi)
RBNY - 2 (Henry, Wright-Phillips)

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