Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Match Day US Open Cup: Can SKC Claim the Cup

For the third time in four seasons, Sporting Kansas City find themselves playing in a cup final. Tomorrow night they'll try to win their third US Open Cup when they take on the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. It'll be the first time that KC will be attempting to win the trophy on the road having won the 2004 and 2012 trophies at Arrowhead and Sporting Park respectively.

They'll be playing a Union side that did similar to what KC did on the weekend, playing a number of reserves and earning themselves a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution. Resting the likes of CJ Sapong and Maurice Edu while the likes of Cristian Maidana and Sebastien Le Toux played a minimal role, both playing 45 minutes or less. So the majority of Philadelphia's starting 11 will be rested headed into tomorrow's game. With Philadelphia virtually out of the playoff race all of their hopes for the season rely on their "unfinished business" in their second straight US Open Cup final.

Sporting on the other hand are still fighting for not just playoff positioning, but a spot in the playoffs. The point against Seattle on Sunday keeps Kansas City ahead of Portland for the fifth spot in the West, but their one win in the last seven games has Kansas City in a lot of trouble. Still, KC's reserves were able to give KC's starters a rest and still pick up a point. Now the majority of Sporting's lineup will be heading into Philadelphia with a week of rest and ready to go.

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

Number to Remember - 1,000 - That's the reported number of traveling KC fans. 800 from the Cauldron and another 200 family and friends of the players. A huge number of fans will certainly be a boost to Sporting KC.

PREDICTION - With where both teams currently are in the table this game will likely be the defining moment in both teams' season. The winner will be able to use the trophy as a sign of a successful season while the loser will be left to rue miss opportunities and likely a season without a trophy. On paper KC really is the better team, but being at home certainly has its advantage. Sporting relied on two late goals to pick up a win in KC but both teams are quite different now. This game, like many cup finals will be close and KC is really going to need to break out of their first half slump to have a chance tomorrow. The longer the game stays scoreless or if the Union grab an early lead the hill is going to become much more difficult to climb. I think Sporting does have just enough left to pull out the win tomorrow and lift more silverware.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Nemeth)
PHI - 1 (Le Toux)
After extra time.

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