Friday, July 15, 2016

Match Day 22: From the Worst to the Best

On Wednesday night Kansas City had played the worst team in MLS in the Chicago Fire and fell 1-0, now tomorrow night in Colorado Sporting Kansas City will take on the best team in MLS in terms of points per game, the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids sit in second place currently in the Western Conference on 34 points, but have only played 18 games, compared to first place FC Dallas who has 37 points in 21 games. The Rapids currently sit with 1.89 points per game so far this season.

Colorado has been so successful this season on the back of its defense. The club has allowed just 13 goals through the first 18 games this season. And to make themselves better the club signed US men's national team goalkeeper, Tim Howard this past spring. With the transfer window open and his contract with Everton expired, Howard has stepped into the net for the Rapids giving them a veteran presence in goal. It's a bit disappointing for their former starter, Zac MacMath, who had been playing well in goal before being replace. The defense in front of the goalkeeper though has done very well for the Rapids, with Axel Sjoberg having himself a very solid season for the Rapids in defense. Offensively, the Rapids aren't a juggernaut, having scored just 21 goals in their 18 games with forward Kevin Doyle leading the way.

Sporting Kansas City got more bad news this week after the Chicago game with the news that Nuno Coelho re-aggravated the same hamstring injury that kept him out for a month against the Chicago Fire. It's especially concerning with the fact that Coelho felt that he was at 100% when he started Wednesday against the Fire. His injury forced Kansas City to recall Kevin Ellis from his loan to Swope Park Rangers and could make for an interesting center back pairing with Ike Opara maybe needing to be rested for his game and Matt Besler not seeming to be in form for the club. Kansas City also could be without Graham Zusi again as he's still questionable, a big blow after his big performance against the Columbus Crew in his last game. His absence could be felt more if KC goes with what's been an ineffective wing lineup with Connor Hallisey and Jacob Peterson, but with both starting on the wing Wednesday, expecting both again is probably unlikely. One is likely to start though with Zusi questionable and Justin Mapp apparently still not able to start a game.

Davis - Dwyer - Hallisey
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Medranda - Besler - Ellis - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 4 - That's the number of consecutive losses that Sporting KC has against the Colorado Rapids, two losses so far this year and two last year. KC lost five straight against the Rapids back in 1998 and 1999. The Rapids for the most part have been one of the teams that KC really dominates in league play, but that's mainly been at home. Still KC will be hoping the losing streak doesn't extend to five.

Key Match Up - Dom Dwyer vs Axel Sjoberg - Dwyer has been able to get himself space against bigger bodies, but Sjoberg is having himself a very good season for the Rapids. He's also a head and a half taller than Dwyer. Sporting's tendency to try to whip balls into the box against the Rapids this year has been far from successful with Dwyer going up against Sjoberg.

PREDICTION - On paper this game looks like it will be far from an offensive break out for either team. Kansas City on short rest isn't a high scoring team to begin with, and neither are the Rapids. With Kansas City on short rest that likely points to a bit more laid back approach from Kansas City, especially on the road at altitude. This game likely won't be the picture of pretty soccer, and unfortunately it's not one that I'm sure KC is able to walk out of with three points.

SKC - 0
COL - 1 (Doyle)

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