Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Match Day 26: Needing to Right the Ship

Sporting KC are back in action after 10 days off after the club's 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids. Sporting now faces a 5 day cross country trip for back to back games. That starts tomorrow in Portland when KC takes on the Timbers at Providence Park. The two teams are currently tied for fifth place in the Western Conference only two points above the playoff line (but KC still has their games in hand). That said there will be something missing from this game due to suspensions, injuries and call ups.

For Portland it's a matter of international call ups and suspensions. They'll be missing two of their starters due to the current international call ups with midfielder Will Johnson with the Canadian team and outside back, Alvas Powell away with Jamaica. Defensively, Portland takes more of a hit with suspensions as well. Defensive midfielder, Diego Chara will serve the second of a two game suspension for a red card he received for an elbow against Houston. They'll also be missing center back, Liam Ridgewell, who is suspended for tomorrow's game due to yellow card accumulation. Those four absences will leave big holes for Portland to fill with KC coming to town.

KC's absences have some of the same issues. They'll be missing three players due to international call ups, with Marcel de Jong with Canada, Krisztian Nemeth with Hungary, and Erik Palmer-Brown with the US U20 team. Nemeth is the biggest miss of the three as the other two were likely to be reserves for the game tomorrow. The good news is the return of Matt Besler who was released from the US camp after the Peru game to return to KC for this game against Portland.  The other issue that will keep KC players out is the injury bug. While it seems that Jalil Anibaba and Soni Mustivar are set to return, and both would be a huge boost to the team, the obvious long term injury to Roger Espinoza is probably KC's biggest absence heading into tomorrow.

Peterson - Dwyer - Zusi
Nagamura - Feilhaber
Sinovic - Besler - Ellis - Myers

Number to Remember - 367 - A little over a year ago, KC lost their fourth straight game in league play to the New York Red Bulls 2-1. That stretch was one of the big parts of KC's fall from grace last year that saw them finish 5th in the Eastern Conference and lose in the Wildcard round of the playoffs.

Key Match Up - Kevin Ellis vs Fanendo Adi - Once again the shortest center back in the league will likely be matched up against the opponents tall center forward. Ellis has done a good job much of the time against opponents, but against Colorado a little over a week ago his size was exposed on Colorado's game winning goal. Hopefully the time off will allow Ellis to step up again.

PREDICTION - The Timbers are extremely difficult to beat at home, especially this season where they haven't lost since April. While the return of Mustivar to KC's midfield should help correct some of KC's problems, especially Feilhaber's sitting in the deep lying playmaker role he has played when Mustivar hasn't been in. I'm just not sure that's going to be enough for KC to get a win on the road. A draw tomorrow is certainly a possibility with all of Portland's defensive absences that Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer can take advantage of, but will the defense be able to stand up and pick up the play that saw them allow 14 goals in the last five games.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
PDX - 1 (Nagbe)

No comments: