Friday, June 05, 2015

Match Day 14: Lacking Options Up Top

Tomorrow at Sporting Park, the two highest scoring teams in the league will face off. Unfortunately those high scoring offenses may not be seen as both teams are faced with injuries and national team call ups that will limit the rosters that both teams will have to choose from tomorrow, especially up top.

Seattle comes into the game second in the Supporters' Shield race, but with two games in hand on first place DC. But they may be playing without their top three forwards tomorrow. Obafemi Martins could miss the game after having surgery on his nose during the week and could miss the game tomorrow, Clint Demspey's wife is on the verge of giving birth to a child, and Chad Barrett apparently picked up an injury in training. Those absences, if they all miss the game, could leave Seattle quite thin up top. The Sounders will also be without two other important players on the team, as club captain Brad Evans is with the US national team, and Osvaldo Alonso is suspended by the MLS disciplinary committee for a challenge in their game on Sunday.

While the Sounders are short, KC isn't much better, especially up top. Krisztian Nemeth is with the Hungarian national team and isn't available tomorrow, while the team's other two forwards, Dom Dwyer and Jacob Peterson are both injured and could miss tomorrow's game as well. Like the Sounders that leaves KC lacking in the forward position for the game tomorrow. Thankfully everywhere else KC is healthy and getting healthier. But tomorrow with Nemeth out and Dwyer and Peterson still question marks, KC could very well run out their traditional 4-3-3, but have it look a lot more like a 4-6-0, with someone like Graham Zusi playing in the "false 9" role that Spain made famous. The problem with that is that it would require more of a change in KC's style of play. Currently KC likes to play a lot of balls into the feet of the striker for them to hold up, or cross from wide positions. Without the likes of Nemeth or Dwyer on the field, KC's opportunities for either of those decreases greatly. Talk from Robb Heineman recently though made it sound like Dwyer would be ready to go for the game tomorrow, which would certainly be welcome for KC, but I'm not sure he'll be set to start.

Anibaba - Ellis - Besler - Dia
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Medranda - Zusi - Hallisey

Number to Remember - 352 - That's the number of minutes that KC has gone scoreless against the Seattle Sounders in league play. KC's last goal against the Sounders came in the 8th minute of KC's 1-1 draw in Seattle back on June 20th of 2012. Since then, KC has lost twice and drew 0-0 two weeks ago in Seattle. In all competitions, that number is a little lower at 307, since Kei Kamara's penalty kick in the 2012 US Open Cup final.

Key Match Up - KC forwards vs Chad Marshall - This could be a very big mis-match depending on who actually plays for KC, and how Sporting chooses to play the game. If Dwyer can not go, KC really needs to focus more on balls on the ground and passing around the Seattle center back, which would suit their style if they can succeed with it. The more KC goes to the air, the more they are going to be playing right into Marshall's and Seattle's hands.

PREDICTION - Considering the potential offensive absences, this has gone from being a potential barn burner to a potential cagey defensive match up. Which means that this game will likely be another match up decided by one goal if there is any difference between the two teams at all. KC is riding their six game unbeaten run, and has yet to lose at home this year. Meanwhile the Sounders have never lost to KC in Kansas City since the Sounders came into MLS. Unfortunately I don't think any of that will change tomorrow. With all the potential absences, I think this game as a draw written all over it.

SKC - 1 (Feilhaber)
SEA - 1 (Pappa)

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