Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Match Day Playoffs: Win or Go Home

Sporting Kansas City has played themselves into a difficult situation in the playoffs this year. After winning just two of their final 10 games, Sporting fell all the way into fifth place in the East and now head out on the road for the play in game against the New York Red Bulls. Sporting finished the season with a 0-2-1 record against New York drawing 1-1 in KC early in the season before falling 2-1 in New York and 2-0 in KC in the season finale.

New York has been good at home this year, losing only three times at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls will also be welcoming back their team captain, Thierry Hery, who missed the team's season finale in KC with an injury. While Henry has 10 goals this year, it's been his assists that have really gotten New York going this year.  Henry has pitched in 14 assists this year for New York. Many of those assists have gone to Bradley Wright-Phillips who scored both goals in Sunday's win in KC. He's also scored four of the five goals for New York against KC this year (Henry scored the other).

Kansas City continues to limp through the late stages of the season. Although they may get a bit of a boost as both Benny Feilhaber and Igor Juliao who were injured in Costa Rica, traveled to New York for tomorrow's game. They're still day-to-day, but with the season on the line seeing them play would not be out of the question at all. There are questions with the rest of KC's lineup as well. With more rest I doubt both Jacob Peterson and Sal Zizzo go on the wings for KC, even if Feilhaber can't go. Toni Dovale has been the better winger for KC and provides more to the offense than those two do. The other big question is who starts in the defensive midfield position for KC, whether it is Lawrence Olum who was removed after only 30 minutes on Sunday, or Jorge Claros, who returns from his 3 game suspension for inappropriate comments.

Ellis - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Claros - Nagamura
Dovale - Dwyer - Peterson

Number to Remember - 0 - That's the number of wins New York has at home in the playoffs at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls are 0-4 in the playoffs at home since the stadium opened.

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin/Matt Besler vs Bradley Wright-Phillips/Thierry Henry - New York's two strikers have all five of New York's goals against KC this year. They'll be going up against a central defense that is tired (Besler) and out of form (Collin). KC's center backs need to pick up their game at this point. The question is whether they'll be able to after the seasons they've had.

PREDICTION - KC really does look like a broken and beaten team at this point. The team looks worn out after a season that has forced role players to become every day starters. Now they're going to play their fourth game in 13 days in four different cities. Peter Vermes has done a lot with the team this season to get what he got out of it with all the injuries and call ups, but I don't think this team has a playoff run in them. And after tonight's Royals game, hopefully it's easier to deal with.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
NY - 2 (Wright-Phillips x2)

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