Saturday, July 09, 2016

Match Day 20: Welcoming Road Warriors

Sporting Kansas City welcome New York City FC to Kansas City for the first time tomorrow in the second meeting ever between the two teams. With their arrival you have the best team in MLS on the road coming to Children's Mercy Park, where KC has had trouble consistently getting results. New York come into the game having picked up their fifth win of the season on the road with a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution on Wednesday. Not only are they a strong team on the road, but they are also playing well overall at the moment, having won their last four games, scoring seven while allowing just two.

New York seems to be clicking on the road when they get to play on a bigger field with more space than they have at Yankee Stadium in NYC. While they are 5-2-1 on the road they are 3-3-5 at home and currently sit on top of the MLS Eastern Conference. Their three designated players are now consistently on the field and contributing, David Villa is the current Golden Boot leader with 12 goals so far this season, Frank Lampard who was a villain at times for the club because his lack of play for the club has come back and has scored three goals since his return. Meanwhile Andrea Pirlo has a goal and six assists on the season to round out the DPs for the club. They're also getting very good performances from the likes of Thomas McNamara who has three goals and six assists on the season. Defensively they are also playing well right now, having not allowed a goal in their last three games, and have only allowed two goals on the road in their last five games.

Kansas City got a much needed win last week against a struggling Columbus side, but will need to be better this week to top New York. Sporting continues to limit the number of chances a team gets, but unfortunately is allowing too many of those few chances to turn into goals for their opposition. I'm not sure if it's the "new car" feel has worn off Tim Melia or if other teams are just getting the best out of the few chances they create, but Sporting can't allow New York those chances, they create numerous chances in a game, especially on the road and will punish KC if they are given the chance. The big thing for KC tomorrow will be replacing Dom Dwyer who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. It'll be the first game of the season that he won't play in at all and will give Diego Rubio a chance to potentially play a full 90 minutes for the first time in a KC uniform.

Peterson - Rubio - Zusi
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Medranda - Besler - Opara - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 5 - That's the number of away wins that New York has this season. That's also the number of home wins that Sporting KC have at Children's Mercy Park on the season.

Key Match Up - Roger Espinoza vs Frank Lampard - The question may be how much time New York's three DPs get tomorrow after a midweek game, but Espinoza against Lampard could be an interesting match up to watch as Lampard may not have the legs he used to have but he does seem to pop up in the right places for NYCFC and Espinoza will likely be the one doing a lot of the tracking.

PREDICTION - You have a good road team playing their third game in a week against a mediocre home team who has a game this coming midweek. Sporting has been playing better since the beginning of June, but really need to start a string of wins to allow them to really move up the table. They've won two of their last three league games  so continuing that streak is a must for Kansas City. Unfortunately I'm not sure that Kansas City has shown enough offensively to get things done against a NYCFC team that has looked quite strong this year.

SKC - 1 (Feilhaber)
NYC - 1 (Harrison)

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