Saturday, September 12, 2015

Match Day 27: Many Familiar Faces Meet

Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City meet for the first time as MLS opponents and on both sides there will be plenty of players who have spent time in the others colors. This is mainly thanks to the teams' affiliation when Orlando was still in the USL. Particularly welcoming for Orlando fans is the return of Dom Dwyer to his "spiritual home" as Orlando head coach Adrian Heath put it earlier this year. Dwyer had spent most of 2013 with Orlando, setting the USL scoring record and scoring four goals in the finals to help Orlando win the USL crown. But the likes of Mikey Lopez, Jon Kempin, Kevin Ellis, and Amobi Okugo have all played games for Orlando, while Jalil Anibaba was an Orlando player for a few minutes after the expansion draft. Meanwhile on the other side line, Aurelien Collin and Servando Carrasco will face their former club for the first time.

Orlando comes into this game desperately needing a win to start a playoff push. They are currently two points behind sixth place Montreal, but have played four more games than the Impact have, putting them in a difficult situation. They are also suffering from injury issues, especially after this last international window, when Kaka and Darwin Ceren both picked up injuries with their respective countries. Neither has officially been ruled out this weekend, but earlier this week, the Orlando DP, Kaka was apparently doubtful to play in the game. The loss of both of them would be a big blow,

While Kansas City seems to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in regards to injuries, unlike Orlando KC is coming into tomorrow's game after a midweek encounter with Portland. The good news is that KC will be welcoming back their internationals from duty tomorrow. Krisztian Nemeth is with the club in Orlando having traveled from Northern Ireland to join up with the team there. Nemeth should be able to add some attacking options to KC after a midweek game in Portland that saw KC's most dangerous chances come from Matt Besler long throws.

Nemeth - Dwyer - Zusi
Feilhaber - Nagamura
Dia - Besler - Ellis - Anibaba

Number to Remember - 1 - That's the number of losses that KC has this year vs the Eastern Conference, unfortunately it was their last time out against an Eastern Conference foe, losing 3-2 against the Columbus Crew, twice blowing a lead in that game. One is also the number of losses KC has in their first match up against expansion sides. KC's lone loss came in 2012 against the Montreal Impact, KC is 7-1-2 in those match ups.

Key Match Up - Dom Dwyer vs Aurelien Collin - A match up of the former KC teammates, the two will certainly go at each other tomorrow. Unfortunately a lot of KC's strategy has been to lob the ball up to Dwyer to lose against his taller marker, but to recover the secondary ball and attack from there. With Collin's penchant for raising his arm for an offside call on close plays, hopefully Dwyer can get the opportunity to get behind the Frenchman tomorrow.

PREDICTION - Even with KC's games in hand still, if Sporting wants a shot at the Supporters' Shield, KC needs to get all three points at home tomorrow. Orlando has just four home wins on the season. But after a few years of being road warriors, KC has just three wins on the road this year. Against a back line that has allowed the most goals in the league this year, 50, KC should be able to find some space to operate and score. It'll be a question of whether Wednesday night's shutout against Portland was a blip on the radar that has been KC's defensive struggles lately or if KC may have finally righted the ship in the back. Could certainly be a high scoring game.

SKC - 3 (Dwyer x2, Nemeth)
OCSC - 1 (Larin)

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