Friday, March 27, 2015

Match Day 4: Still Searching for a Win

Sporting KC are back on the road for their fourth game of the season as they travel to New York City to take on the expansion New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. Kansas City is still searching for their first win of the season after two home draws and a road loss to Dallas. New York on the other hand is actually unbeaten on the season with a 1-0-2 record after a 0-0 draw on the road last week against Colorado.

NYCFC is 1-0 on the season at home, winning their home opener two weeks ago 2-0 over the New England Revolution 2-0 on goals by David Villa and Patrick Mullins. Villa, the Spanish international is someone that KC is going to have to account for the entire time he's on the field, shutting him down will be a key to KC's defense. The rest of NYCFC is struggling with some injuries and call ups though (like much of MLS). They'll be without forward Adam Nemec (who has started all three games) and Khiry Shelton (who has played in all three games) who are both on international duty. In terms of injuries, the likes of Sebastian Velasquez is out for the game. NYCFC's defense, which has only allowed one goal in three games, may have to do some shuffling as well. Josh Williams,who started the first two games at right back for New York is questionable still with health concerns because of a blood clot. His replacement, Shay Facey, on loan from parent club, Manchester City FC was red carded in their draw with Colorado. If Williams is unable to go NYCFC may be doing some shuffling of their back line.

KC has some international absences of their own, with two starters, Roger Espinoza and Marcel de Jong, and as well as reserve defender Erik Palmer-Brown away on international duty. In de Jong, KC has a ready made replacement in Seth Sinovic, the starter at left back for the last three plus years for Kansas City, so KC should miss little there. With Espinoza that are a few other questions to ask. KC could insert Servando Carrasco, who came in for Benny Feilhaber late in the 0-0 draw with Portland or they could insert Haitian international, Soni Mustivar, who came into the game for Espinoza last week. I'd lean towards Vermes going with Mustivar, mainly because of the way that Peter Vermes has had Carrasco play in preseason. The former Seattle and Houston man spent most of the time playing deep in the midfield for KC. Mustivar seems likely to play further up the field. That won't be what KC fans want to hear as most would like to see a defensive midfielder inserted and Feilhaber move up to his more traditional attacking midfield role. Unfortunately for fans, I don't see Vermes moving him up, Feilhaber's new role is the deep lying playmaker. Feilhaber's deep play play though has really affected KC's offense, as KC's offensive players had yet to score a goal this year.

Anibaba - Opara - Besler - Sinovic
Mustivar - Nagamura
Medranda -Dwyer - Zusi

Number to Remember - 3 - That's the number of shots on goal that Dom Dwyer has had this season for KC through three games. That average of one shot on goal a game half a shot on goal per 90 minutes less than he last year, and has yet to score a goal this year.

Key Match Up - Ike Opara and Matt Besler vs David Villa - The Spanish international is a handful to deal with, he's going to get his chances, but the goal for Opara and Besler is to limit those chances and keep him from getting clear looks on goal against Luis Marin.

PREDICTION - Traditional strong starters, Kansas City is in very unfamiliar waters as a team, they've picked up just two points on the season through three games, and are winless in seven straight across all competitions since their 2-0 win over Chicago back on October 10th. KC actually has a good record all time against expansion sides, going 6-3-2 against expansion teams in their first meeting against them since 1998. For this game though, it's going to be a question of whether KC's offense can step up, they lead MLS in shots with 45, but have only scored twice, only five teams have scored fewer (three of those five have played one less game). That's only a 4.4% conversion rate of their shots. For a team that wanted to prove themselves this year, and show that the back half of the 2014 season was behind them, they're not doing a good job of it.

The small field tomorrow in Yankee Stadium should bring back memories of the field at CAB for those that attended games at the then Wizards temporary stadium. The low camera angle of the game will bring back similar memories as well. Unfortunately for KC they don't have much of an advantage of experience on the small field any more as only Graham Zusi and Matt Besler are available of players who have extensive experience at CAB. The shorter field though should lend itself very well to the long throw, and if Besler or Sinovic can get a nice ball into the box KC could steal at least one goal on the set play. With the lack of offensive spark this team has shown though I'm not sure KC can grab all three points tomorrow.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
NYCFC - 1 (Villa)

1 comment:

Ky said...

I think your prediction is generous, but I will welcome the draw if it comes.