Saturday, March 19, 2016

Match Day 3: Welcoming Canada Again

Sporting Kansas City welcome another Canadian side to Kansas City this weekend as Sporting KC will play host to Toronto FC at Children's Mercy Park on national television on Sunday. Both teams come into the game unbeaten with Kansas City sitting at 2-0 while Toronto sits at 1-0-1 after a 2-2 draw against New York City FC last week. The pair will meet in Kansas City for the first time in two years, after Kansas City's move back to the Western Conference. The last time these two teams met was a 3-1 win for KC last year at BMO Field.

Toronto made the playoffs for the first time in their club's history last season, but fell to Montreal in their first game. Over the offseason Toronto again worked to remake their club a bit, this time adding defense to go along with a very dynamic offense thanks to Sebastian Giovinco. Toronto acquired Drew Moor as a free agent and Steven Beitashour from the Vancouver Whitecaps to shore up the back line. The club also traded for goalkeeper, Clint Irwin from the Colorado Rapids to try to upgrade their goalkeeping position. The upgardes along with the return of Giovinco, the league's reigning MVP make Toronto a more dangerous opponent, they've stopped trying to overpay for talent and really started to try to play an MLS style that is successful. They're a more complete side than they've probably ever been before in MLS.

Kansas City has started the season 2-0 thanks to some timely goals, but probably more so due to the play of the midfield. With Benny Feilhaber out with injury, Jordi Quintilla has filled in well, although he hasn't produced the numbers that Feilhaber did for KC, but the rest of the midfield has been remarkable, Roger Espinoza and Soni Mustivar have done a great job of shutting down Seattle and Vancouver's midfield and allowing Kansas City to win both of those games. With Giovinco playing further up field though it will be interesting to see how the midfield will work with KC's center backs to shut down the Italian.

Number to Remember - 1  - KC has just one loss at home in their history against Toronto FC, a 3-2 loss on opening day of the 2009 season.

Key Match Up - KC Defense vs Sebastian Giovinco - The reigning MVP is a handful to deal with and shutting him down will be a job all on its own. KC's defense though has yet to allow a goal from the run of play this season. The match up should be fun to watch.

PREDICTION - Toronto is a much improved team over the last few years, but KC's midfield right now is the difference for this team. Sporting KC is going to need the midfield to be in top form to stop the likes of Michael Bradley and keep Giovinco from getting the ball. It won't be easy but it's something that KC can do.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Zusi)
TFC - 1 (Giovinco)

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