Friday, August 21, 2015

Match Day 24: Looking to Rebound

After Wednesday's 5-0 loss to San Jose, Sporting Kansas City doesn't get much time to dwell on the result as they are back in action tomorrow night against the Columbus Crew. The good news is that KC has a chance to quickly put the Wednesday game behind them. The bad news is that the team is still running on tired legs and going up against the league's Golden Boot leader, Kei Kamara.

The Crew come into the game currently in third place in the Eastern Conference. They're firmly in a playoff spot at this point and have looked good at home this year, where they haven't lost since early June. Columbus, like Kansas City, had a midweek game at home. The Crew jumped out to an early lead through Kamara before two goals by Kwadwo Poku scored two unanswered for NYCFC. A 72nd minute equalizer saw the Crew split the points with New York heading into tomorrow's game. Not only does the Crew have the Golden Boot leader right now, but they also have Ethan Finlay, who is tied for second in the league with 13 assists on the season. The pair, along with designated player, Federico Higuain have the Columbus attacking working very well this year and will cause KC problems all night.

The person that Finlay is tied with for second in the league in assists won't be playing tomorrow for KC, Benny Feilhaber, who also has 13 assists in league play is suspended for tomorrow's game after picking up a red card against San Jose for denial of a goal scoring opportunity. As Peter Vermes put it though, he probably needs the rest. The question is who fills in for him in midfield. Is Graham Zusi healthy enough to start and drop back to midfield? Last time Feilhaber was out, KC still had Roger Espinoza healthy, this time, there's no Espinoza and no Soni Mustivar either, putting KC's midfield into a very awkward situation if Zusi is not able to start. Amobi Okugo had himself a poor first start, but numbers could see him slot back into the midfield with the likes of Paulo Nagamura and Mikey Lopez in a very defensive midfield.

Nemeth - Dwyer - Hallisey
Lopez - Okugo
de Jong - Besler - Palmer-Brown - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember -5 - While fans certainly have every right to be at least a little discouraged about the result on Wednesday, KC still has the fewest losses in league play this season, with just five.

Key Match Up - Marcel de Jong (or whoever plays LB tomorrow) vs Ethan Finlay - Kamara is going to be a handful in the middle tomorrow for KC's center backs, but the big thing is going to be denying him service. That has to start with shutting down Finlay. While he hasn't assisted on all of Kamara's goals, as their main assist man KC needs to really work on first cutting down on Finlay's contribution to the game.

PREDICTION - Back in 2001, the last time that KC lost a home game this badly, KC went on the road three days later and picked up a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution. I'd like to think that this is possible for KC to do tomorrow night in Columbus, but I'm just not feeling it. KC looked incredibly tired on Wednesday night against the Earthquakes and were played off the field because of it. With all the injuries and the roster not being fully filled, there's just not enough players currently on the roster that haven't played a ton of minutes recently that I feel comfortable enough to think that they'd start this weekend and KC would pull out the result. Unfortunately I have a feel KC will lose two in a row for the first time this season.

SKC - 0
CLB - 2 (Kamara, Finlay)

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