Friday, March 11, 2016

Match Day 2: Welcome Home

Sporting KC continue their start to the 2016 season with their home opener tomorrow night at Children's Mercy Park against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The match up is the first between the two sides since the dramatic 4-3 comeback by Sporting KC in Kansas City last year. There will certainly be a level of retribution the Whitecaps want from the game after seeing a 3-1 lead evaporate in the final 10 minutes to lose three points on the road.

The Whitecaps come into the game having lost their opener at home 3-2 to the Montreal Impact. The Whitecaps had the majority of the offense, recording 10 shots on goal, but Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush had a fantastic game in goal, making eight saves to help the Impact to the win. The Whitecaps offense caused KC fits last year with their speed and it'd be crazy for Carl Robinson to not try to do it again this time. They will have to do it without Christian Bolanos, the Costa Rican international was suspended by the disciplinary committee for a tackle on Montreal center back Laurent Ciman. While that's a blow, it would be easy for Robinson to just replace him with Kekuta Manneh who burned KC for a pair of goals last year.

Kansas City still has some injury issues that are keeping them from being able to field their best 11. Midfielder and MVP candidate Benny Feilhaber is still listed as questionable and did not participate much in practice this week either. His absence seems likely to continue to be filled by Jordi Quintilla in midfield. Elsewhere Sporting is getting healthier as it appears that both Brad Davis and Seth Sinovic will be available for selection in tomorrow's game. Davis' availability will be a welcome addition for KC. While Connor Hallisey didn't play horribly last week, he seemed a step slower in terms of deciding what to do with the ball, and bringing Davis in to replace him should increase the speed. As for Sinovic I'm not sure you start him tomorrow. Sinovic has had issues since his concussion really with dealing with speed. And with Vancouver's speed Sinovic could be in a long night. He can still bring plenty to the KC lineup, but against a speedy lineup like Vancouver's I'd probably start Amadou Dia in his place.

Davis - Dwyer - Zusi
Espinoza - Quintilla
Dia - Besler - Coelho - Myers

Number to Remember - 0 - That's the number of wins that the Whitecaps have at Children's Mercy Park since the stadium opened five years ago. KC will attempt to keep that streak going on Saturday.

Key Match Up - KC wing backs vs Vancouver wingers - As I mentioned earlier, Sinovic is available for selection on Saturday against the Whitecaps. But last year when the two teams met the Whitecaps wingers ran all over KC's wingbacks. With Manneh potentially getting the start over a suspended Bolanos this is something to watch considering how Manneh played last year against Sporting.

PREDICTION -Kansas City looked very strong defensively against the Sounders last week in Seattle, but also played over half the game up a man, which can change the numbers just a bit. Vancouver is going to come at Kansas City with more speed up top than Seattle did. KC's ability to cope with that speed is going to be key. I think with the way Vancouver's defense has played, KC will find opportunities of their own to score, it's capitalizing on those opportunities.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Zusi)
VAN - 1 (Rivero)

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