With Sporting Kansas City crashing out of the US Open Cup on Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo, the team now has a singular focus for the next month and a half until the CONCACAF Champions League kicks off in August. They now have to focus on getting themselves back into the playoff picture in MLS's Western Conference as they currently sit outside the playoffs in 7th place one point behind the LA Galaxy, but having played two fewer games. KC's first opportunity to refocus on league is tomorrow when KC take on the Columbus Crew at Children's Mercy Park.
The Crew currently sit ninth in the MLS Eastern Conference with only 16 points through their first 15 games of the season, only the Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo have fewer points this season than they Crew. Columbus has won just one of their last eight league games, a 4-3 win over Real Salt Lake, other than that the Crew have been drawing a number of games, having drawn five of those eight games. After a strong season last year the Crew have struggled on the field and that's led to problems off it as a disagreement over penalty duty led to their leading scorer, Kei Kamara being traded to the New England Revolution. They've also lost Federico Higuain due to hernia surgery making a tough season even more difficult for the Crew.
Kansas City hasn't had the in fighting, at least not publicly like the Crew have had, and while Nuno Coelho has missed time with injury, Sporting's defense has maintained itself near the top half of the league.The issue for Kansas City continues to be it's ability to score goals. Sporting is averaging a goal a games in league play, add in the US Open Cup and KC is scoring just over a goal a game. The team extended Diego Rubio's loan for the rest of the season and he's no longer a DP, which leaves the possibility of an addition coming in this window. Without some sort of change either via the transfer window, or via a philosophy KC is going to be lucking to make the playoffs in 2016.
Number to Remember - 79 - That's the number of consecutive sellouts that Sporting Kansas City has had at Children's Mercy Park. Tomorrow may well be the best chance in a while for that streak to end. The Cauldron still had a number of tickets for sale on their site while Sporting have been doing a number of advertisements and deals to try to move tickets. Add that into a rainy forecast on the 4th of July weekend and the sellout streak could well be in danger tomorrow.
Key Match Up - Benny Feilhaber vs Will Trapp - Trapp has become one of the better box-to-box midfielders in the league and is really good at breaking up plays for the Crew. Feilhaber will have his hands full dealing with him when Feilhaber gets forward on offense.
PREDICTION - Columbus has yet to win a game on the road this year, currently 0-4-3 on the season, but at the same time, no team has lost more games at home than the four games that KC have dropped at CMP this season. While Columbus don't have Kei Kamara they do have another Kamara, Ola, who leads the Crew in scoring with five. KC defensively can shut down the Crew, I'm just not sure they have the offense to get things done on the other end though, but tomorrow I think KC can and should get all three points.
SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
CLB - 0