Monday, August 22, 2016

CCL Match Day 2: Finishing the Road

Sporting Kansas City close out the road portion of their CCL group play tomorrow night in Vancouver where they'll play their second game in four days against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place. After a 2-2 draw in Trinidad last week, Sporting KC sit in second place in the group behind Vancouver who have three points after they won 1-0 in Trinidad. The draw though does put a lot of pressure on Kansas City heading into this game, as a loss basically takes advancement out of their hands and will require help.

Vancouver threw out their best 11 for the game in Kansas City on Saturday, needing to get their league season back on track, but a 2-0 loss keeps them outside the playoffs and looking over their shoulders at the on-rushing Seattle Sounders. The Whitecaps certainly won't punt tomorrow's game, as advancement from the group may be the only thing that they can take out of this season if they miss the playoffs. But they'll have the same tough balancing act as KC, as they travel to LA after Tuesday's game.

For Kansas City, their injury issues continue to mount at a really bad time for them. Three of the club's five center backs are questionable for tomorrow's game, and the two that aren't already played 90 minutes on Saturday, and one of those two is coming off an MCL sprain. It certainly creates a juggling act for Peter Vermes, does he start Kevin Ellis, who has played 325 of the last 360 available minutes or Matt Besler coming off the MCL sprain. One thing seems certain, Amer Didic will make his second start for KC at the other center back position. Vermes obviously has to be careful because with the minutes piling up he runs the risk of a player being slow to react and that can cause major issues for the team. Elsewhere on the field, Vermes has to continue to balance his team as the club still has to fly across country to Philadelphia for a regular season game on Saturday night. There's also been some talk that another Swope Park Ranger could be called in for tomorrow's game, specifically Ualefi, who played just 45 minutes (his shortest outing of the season) for the Rangers on Sunday.

Hallisey - Rubio - Porter
Nagamura - Ualefi
Alvarado - Didic - Besler - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 7 - While Kansas City's road winless streak in all competitions is up to 11 games now, they have won a road game more recently than the club's 2-0 win over New York back in April. KC won their first US Open Cup game on the road against Minnesota United 2-1 in extra time. They'll be looking to break their shorter streak tomorrow.

Key Match Up - Diego Rubio vs Vancouver defense - Kansas City's back up striker hasn't exactly had a great first season with the club, having scored just twice in all competitions while playing just 471 minutes across all competitions. If there was a time to come out and show why KC signed him in the first place it'd be tomorrow.

PREDICTION - As I mentioned earlier, KC need some type of result tomorrow against Vancouver. A loss and KC is relying on Central FC to take points off Vancouver later in the competition in Vancouver. A draw puts Kansas City in a better position, needing to win their two home games in the competition to advance. If KC can some how get a win they'll firmly be in the driver's seat in the group, but still won't be able to afford a loss in either of their home games. As I mentioned before Saturday's game, Vancouver is in a very rough spot form wise and is also desperate for a result to try to right their season. It's an opponent that KC can take advantage up, but they'll need to finish their chances better.

SKC - 1 (Rubio)
VAN - 1 (Davies)

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