Saturday, June 18, 2016

Match Day 17: Time to Right the Ship

MLS kicks back into action this weekend after their break for the Copa America Centenario and Sporting KC will kick off on Sunday in the heat against co-leaders of the Western Conference, FC Dallas. I wouldn't expect a game that has a lot of pretty soccer to it unfortunately because of the situations both teams find themselves in. Beside the fact that the temperature will be in the mid 90s at kickoff, both teams come into the game having played 120 minutes on Wednesday night. Both teams were taken to extra time in their US Open Cup fourth round game, Kansas City against Minnesota and Dallas against Oklahoma City. The two teams both advanced, but both teams used a number of starters that went 120 minutes which could lead to a lot of heavy legs, especially in the heat.

Dallas was able to rest one of their most dynamic players on Wednesday as Fabian Castillo was an unused substitute against OKC, with his speed he could cause a number of issues for Kansas City, especially with some tired legs for KC on defense, he'll be a handful for Kansas City's back line. On top of that Dallas is the second highest scoring team in MLS so far this season, behind the LA Galaxy (who KC shut out on the road in their last MLS game). The Dallas offense is quite dynamic with Castillo and Mauro Diaz leading the line, and while their forwards don't stand out too much, both Maximiliano Urruti and Tesho Akindele can finishing their chances when they come. Some good news for KC though is that Dallas will be without Michael Barrios who has caused a number of issues for Kansas City since signing with Dallas.

Kansas City has their own issues with tired legs, playing more starters for their win over Minnesota United than Dallas did. Kansas City will likely need more rotation, most likely up top. Brad Davis, who only played 30 minutes on Wednesday seems like a smart bet to start on the wing for Kansas City. The other wing could be interesting as Peter Vermes could go with Jacob Peterson or Connor Hallisey on short rest or maybe look to give Justin Mapp his first start for Kansas City. One big question is if Nuno Coelho will be back and ready to go tomorrow. He'd had a set back on his injury and missed Wednesday's game, and while KC's defense has played well in Coelho's absence, his availability would be a boost for Kansas City tomorrow. Another big question could be at center forward where Dom Dwyer played 105 minutes on Wednesday before making way for Diego Rubio. In his short 15 minutes, Rubio scored what proved to be the game winner bringing up questions about whether Rubio should get more time or even get a start ahead of Dwyer.

Davis - Dwyer - Peterson
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Medranda - Coelho - Opara - Myers

Number to Remember - 220 - That's the number of minutes that Kansas City has gone since they scored a league goal. The last goal came in the 50th minute of KC's 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.

Key Match Up - Chance Myers (KC right back) vs Fabian Castillo - Castillo is one of the league's most dynamic players and is always a handful to deal with. Tomorrow night won't be any different for Kansas City in dealing with him. Having to shut him down isn't going to be easy for Sporting with the way he plays, a lot of that responsibility will fall on KC's outside back.

Another match up between one of the lowest scoring teams in the league against one of the highest scoring teams and it's a question of whether the KC defense can actually shut down another high power offense. Sporting's defense has been playing much better over the last few games and will need to be organized tomorrow to continue that. Kansas City has been able to play well defensive but need to continue to clean things up on the offensive third of the field. I'm just not sure that's coming tomorrow.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
FCD - 2 (Urruti, Castillo)

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