Saturday, July 30, 2016

Match Day 24: Sporting's Moment on Broadcast TV

Sporting Kansas City are back at home for another game on national television tomorrow at Children's Mercy Park, this time the club will be on broadcast television as Sporting KC will take on the Portland Timbers on Fox tomorrow. Not Fox Sports 1, not Fox Sports Midwest, but Fox itself, the first time possibly since MLS Cup 2000 that Kansas City has appeared on a major network for one of their games.

The Timbers come limping into this game in terms of health, especially in the back where the team is suffering through issues with their defense. The Timbers won't have either of their preferred starting center backs as Nat Borchers ruptured his Achilles last week against the LA Galaxy and is done for the season while his partner, Liam Ridgewell is suspended for the game because of the league's All Star game rule. Ridgewell was selected for the game but was unable to compete due to injury, after year's of players back out of the All Star game with "injuries" but then being able to play the following weekend, the league instituted a rule that if a player selected didn't play he was suspended, so Ridgewell is suspended for tomorrow's game. That will leave the Timbers short handed in the back for tomorrow, where former Kansas City midfielder, Amobi Okugo is likely to start at center back. While they have defensive issues the Timbers have plenty to worry about offensively with Fanendo Adi and Diego Valeri, the pair have combined for 19 goals for the Timbers this season and will be a handful for KC's defense.

Kansas City will have a suspension of their own, although Matt Besler wasn't going to play in the game tomorrow due to the knee injury that kept him out of the All Star game to begin with. Even if healthy, Peter Vermes was likely to stick with Lawrence Olumand  Ike Opara at center back for the game. Elsewhere on the field though KC looks like they'll be lucky to be able to dress a full 18 with injuries to Brad Davis, Justin Mapp, Justin Mapp, Jacob Peterson, and a host of others. With all the injuries KC the question will be whether they can retain their current home form against a strong Timbers offense.

Porter - Dwyer - Hallisey
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Medranda - Olum - Opara - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 4 - That's the number of home losses that Kansas City has this season. Currently sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference, the five other playoff teams that this point have a combined two home losses, and both of those are by sixth place Vancouver. The other four teams in the West currently in a playoff position have yet to lose. Portland, tomorrow's opponent isn't much better than KC having lose three at home.

Key Match Up - Dom Dwyer vs Portland defense - With Borchers and Ridgewell both out it'll be a patchwork defense for the defending MLS Cup champions. Unfortunately Kansas City has seemed to have trouble putting those undermanned teams to the sword and taking care of business in the past. Tomorrow a lot of pressure will be on Dom Dwyer to take advantage of an undermanned Portland defense, even if he's working with the end of the bench as his wingers.

PREDICTION - Kansas City has been playing very well at home over the last few games, having scored three goals in each of their last three home games. Portland isn't a great road team, having yet to win a game on the road this season although they have six draws. Still, with KC's current home form this is a game that KC not only should win, but really has to win to continue to keep themselves in a playoff position.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer x2)
PDX - 1 (Valeri)

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