Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Match Day 29: Making Up a Game in Hand

Tomorrow Sporting KC make up another one of their games in hand on the rest of the Western Conference. In fact after tomorrow KC will actually have played more games than second place FC Dallas. KC can move into a tie for second place with a win tomorrow in Houston. They would only move up to fourth place though as they lose out to FC Dallas on the first tiebreaker, wins, and to LA on the second tiebreaker, goal difference. To get to that point though they'll have to get by a Houston Dynamo team that will virtually be fighting for their playoff lives. Houston currently sit in ninth place in the Western Conference on 35 points through 29 games. A loss would leave them six points adrift of Portland for the sixth and final playoff spot, with just four games left. So while a win is a big need for KC, it's a must win for the Dynamo.

Houston though has been dealing with a number of injury issues, over the past few weeks, especially on their back line. US international, DaMarcus Beasley has missed time with a calf strain, while another outside back, Kofi Sarkodie has a bone bruise that caused him to be subbed out at half time of their 2-0 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday. That will leave Houston short at the outside back position, but they will welcome back Raul Rodriguez in the center of defense after serving a one game suspension for yellow card accumulation on Sunday. On the other side though they'll lose midfielder, Luis Garrido who will serve a suspension for accumulation tomorrow.

KC, while getting healthier, faces their own selection issues for this game. KC has a very busy stretch right now, they have Houston tomorrow, Seattle Sunday, and then the US Open Cup final on Wednesday next week. To avoid completely exhaustion for the cup final as we saw a bit during the winless streak, KC might need to use a little more squad rotation to handle this stretch. The problem is I'm not sure that KC is deep enough to handle that much rotation. Plenty of players have gotten time over the course of the season that haven't been seeing much time lately, the likes of Jimmy Medranda, Marcel de Jong, and Amabou Dia just to name a few. Tomorrow may see some rotation with different rotation occurring on Sunday ahead of the final. With Krisztian Nemeth picking up a minor knock on Friday, resting him for the game tomorrow wouldn't be a surprise, but than again Peter Vermes may not do much of any rotation.

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

Number to Remember - 4 - Four of the last five games between these two teams across all competitions, have seen a red card issued. All three this season have been handed out to Houston Dynamo players, with the one to KC coming in the club's 2-0 win in Houston early in the 2014 season.

It's also the number of points that each team has over the last six games.

Key Match Up - KC Defense vs Brad Davis set pieces - In the three games this year, Brad Davis has three assists for Houston against KC all on set pieces, with a fourth goal coming immediately after a Davis set piece. KC has had a problem dealing with set pieces and while over the last couple games they haven't been made to pay too much for them (Adrian Winter goal in Orlando aside), Davie will certainly make KC pay for giving them too many set pieces within range of his left foot. KC's lack of height on the field for the most part could be a big disadvantage in this one.

PREDICTION - Both teams really could use three points in this game, KC to build momentum towards the US Open Cup final and continue to move up the playoff table, while Houston need this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. Both teams have won just one of their last six games, so neither team's form is in good shape right now. With the way both teams looked in their last game though, Houston is in a much worse place at this point. That said, KC has been making teams that have been playing bad look extremely good this season (San Jose...). And their road form that had carried them at times last year has fallen closer to normal in MLS as KC has won just three games on the road this year. These two teams combined for eight goals the last time these two teams met, it was the end of the Luis Marin era for KC. Tomorrow I don't think will have that many goals, but I think we'll end up seeing another draw.

SKC - 1 (Feilhaber)
HOU - 1 (Bruin)

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