Saturday, May 02, 2015

Match Day 9: Two Separate Streaks

Sporting KC welcome the Chicago Fire to Sporting Park tomorrow in a match up of two teams currently in two different kinds of streaks. The Fire head into the game in Kansas City riding a three game winning streak. That three game winning streak though has bee over the course of a month, their win last week against New York City FC was their first game in 20 days due to MLS' schedule and moving games to accommodate Montreal's CONCACAF Champions League run. Meanwhile, Kansas City is in the middle of a three game winless run after last week's exciting, but disappointing 4-4 draw with Houston.

The Fire won their last game 1-0 over NYCFC thanks to a goal from David Accam, capitalizing on a mistake by goalkeeper, Ryan Meara. Accam's pace along with the likes o Quincy Amarikwa could cause a number of problems for KC on counters. Along with KC having been quite susceptible to counters, they've also been exposed numerous times on set pieces. And with the likes of Harry Shipp, Jeff Larentowicz, and Shaun Maloney, serving in set piece, Kansas City will need to up their performance from last week when Brad Davis set up two goals for the Dynamo off of set pieces.

Kansas City meanwhile had that exciting 4-4 draw, but it still exposed more of the issues that KC has to deal with defensively. As I mentioned earlier, the counter and set pieces have been the bane of KC's existence in the early going of the season, especially with Ike Opara done for the season. KC will be forced into one change tomorrow, having to replace Servando Carrasco who is suspended after the Disciplinary Committee reviewed the Houston game. The likely replacement would seem to be Soni Mustivar, the Haitian, who has come in for Carrasco in the last two games. Other than that, there aren't a lot of changes that I could see Peter Vermes making. The offense looks like it starting to click, and defensively it's really more a matter of a lack of options for Kansas City. Seth Sinovic should be back and available to play left back, but I'm not sure Vermes will sit Marcel de Jong. I also am not sure he's ready to hand over the spot next to Matt Besler to Erik Palmer-Brown.

Anibaba - Ellis - Besler - de Jong
Feilhaber - Espinoza
Zusi - Dwyer - Nemeth

Number to Remember - 1 - That's the number of goals that Chicago has in their last four visits to Sporting Park. That one goal came in a 1-1 draw. In that stretch KC is 2-0-2 at home.

Key Match Up - Soni Mustivar vs Harry Shipp - The Chicago home grown player has continued his strong development this year for the Fire and has really become a focal point of the Fire offense. With Mustivar seeming to be the prime candidate to come in for Carrasco, it'll likely fall on him to make sure that Shipp doesn't run amok on Sporting's back line.

PREDICTION - This is really a hard game to predict, normally the Fire come in to KC and bunker and try to counter KC's high pressure. And that's certainly possible, but this Fire team is fairly well rested after playing just twice in the month of April. They could attempt to come out and play a bit more. For me though I expect Chicago to play in KC they've played for the last few years, they're going to rely on the countering of Amarikwa and Accam to try to get behind KC when they high press. Unfortunately for KC that's been one area that the team has struggled.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
CHI - 1 (Shipp)

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