Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Match Day USOC: Another Rivalry Renewed

For the second round in a row of the US Open Cup Sporting KC will face off against an opponent that they've developed an on the field rivalry with. Last round it was the Houston Dynamo visiting Sporting Park, tomorrow night it will be Real Salt Lake stepping onto the field at Sporting Park with a spot in the US Open Cup finals on the line.

Salt Lake comes into the game set to play their fourth straight game on the road over the last two weeks in four different cities. The team has traveled from Salt Lake to DC, to Guatemala, to Vancouver. They lost two of those three, losing 6-4 in DC and 4-0 in Vancouver. In between Salt Lake pulled off a 1-0 win in Guatemala. In Vancouver this past weekend though Salt Lake put out a primarily reserve lineup that didn't consist of Nick Rimando, Kyle Becerkman, Javier Morales, Joao Plata or others, that group stayed behind in Salt Lake to rest after the trip to Guatemala ahead of tomorrow's game. They will likely need that rest with RSL being one of the weaker teams on the road this year, currently sitting with a -16 goal difference in league play and a 1-9-2 away from Rio Tinto.

KC on the other hand continues to be undefeated at home with a 7-0-4 record in league play at Sporting Park this year. Unlike RSL against Vancouver though KC put out as close to a first team as they really could against Toronto on the weekend. Four normal starters were missing from the lineup for KC though. Luckily, two of those four should be returning tomorrow night with Dom Dwyer having been suspended vs Toronto and Amadou Dia sat in favor of Jimmy Medranda. Roger Espinoza the third missing is suspended for this game, but is also injured. The question will be Graham Zusi who was a late scratch against Toronto due to a calf injury. Zusi's availability will be a big question for tomorrow's game, even though he's not had the best season he's still a difference maker for the team that will be missed if he can't go.

Nemeth - Dwyer - Peterson
Nagamura - Feilhaber
Dia - Besler - Ellis - Myers

Number to Remember - 90 - 90 minutes from a cup final, that's all that matters.

Key Match Up - Benny Feilhaber vs Kyle Beckerman - Feilhaber has a goal and an assist in the three games against RSL this year. The MVP candidate will need to get the better of the RSL captain and USMNT defensive midfielder again and be the leader of the team tomorrow. KC's leaned on him all year and tomorrow won't be much different.

PREDICTION - RSL has won just once in Kansas City in their club's history, KC has tended to have a good luck against them. Unfortunately KC hasn't technically beaten them at home since 2012, they've played to three straight draws, including MLS Cup 2013. The last two games have been 0-0 draws where RSL has really not shown much interest in attacking KC's goal. Obviously in a win or go home situation that can't quite just do that. That may open up some more chances for KC to punish them. It certainly won't be an easy game and extra time tomorrow would not be a surprise at all between the two. In the end I think KC will do just enough to get through and win a trip to either Chicago or Philadelphia for the final.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Nemeth)
RSL - 1 (Plata)

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