Thursday, October 15, 2015

Match Day 32: Playoffs in Sight

Tomorrow night in San Jose, Sporting Kansas City will have the chance to clinch a playoff spot for the fifth straight year. All Sporting need is a draw tomorrow night at Avaya Stadium to book their spot in the playoffs. While a draw will do, Sporting will likely have a bit of extra motivation for the game after San Jose came into Sporting Park and gave KC their only loss of the year so far at home, not just winning, but blowing Sporting away to the tune of a 5-0 win for the Earthquakes. The first win by an away team in the series since 2004.

The Earthquakes are in desperate need of a win tomorrow against KC to keep their playoff hopes alive. They currently sit in seventh place in the West, three points behind the Portland Timbers for the final playoff spot. The Earthquakes after tomorrow will have just a single game left and would need a lot of help if they want to make the playoffs should they lose. The Earthquakes will have Chris Wondolowski available as he returned to the club after the USA's 3-2 loss to Mexico so they'll have their top scorer available. They will be a little short handed for the game tomorrow though as starting center back, Victor Bernardez and midfielder Marc Pelosi are both suspended for the game tomorrow due to yellow card accumulation. Bernardez's absence will be the bigger hole for the Quakes to fill tomorrow.

Sporting could have some big absences of their own tomorrow though. When the team left for San Jose yesterday, both Kevin Ellis and Soni Mustivar did not travel due to lingering injuries. Both could have traveled today if their condition improved, but their absence could be felt quite a bit. Ellis is likely to be replaced by teenager Erik Palmer-Brown who came on for him when he got hurt two weeks ago in Portland. Mustivar will be more difficult to replace as seen when he was out earlier this year. Potential replacements could be Jordi Quintilla, Mikey Lopez, or Amobi Okugo. The first two would unfortunately see the team's MVP, Benny Feilhaber drop into the deep lying playmaking role. Unfortunately that hasn't been a position that has allowed him to really dictate the game as he has when he's further up the field. The last option would see Feilhaber further up the field, but Okugo's last appearance for KC was just 45 minutes in that disastrous game against San Jose at home.

Nemeth - Dwyer - Zusi
Quintilla - Nagamura
Sinovic - Besler - Palmer-Brown - Myers

Number to Remember - 15 - That's the number of years that it's been since KC last won a game in San Jose. KC's last win there came in the 2000 season when KC picked up a 3-0 win with a mostly reserve lineup.

Key Match Up - Matt Besler vs Chris Wondolowski - With Ellis potentially out more pressure is going to fall on Besler with teenager Palmer-Brown his likely replacement. Besler has stepped up multiple times this season for the defense, and KC will likely need him to step up again against one of the league's highest scorers.

PREDICTION - San Jose has scored just 12 goals at home at Avaya stadium this year, they've been less than stellar going forward in their home stadium. On the opposite side they've allowed just 10 goals in their 14 games at Avaya Stadium this year. Tomorrow's game is unlikely to be a pretty affair between the two teams. Instead this game seems likely to be a frustrating battle that will be decided by the lone goal from an opposition mistake.

SKC - 0
SJ - 0

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