Friday, August 19, 2016

Match Day 27: Late Night Action

Sporting Kansas City will take the field for a late night match up against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Normally this would mean that Kansas City is out on the West Coast, but tomorrow night the late night kick off will take place at Children's Mercy Park. Because of MLS' contract with TSN in Canada, Sporting's game against the Whitecaps in on national television in Canada. With the contract Kansas City will be having their latest home kick off in team history tomorrow night.

The Whitecaps are on the outside looking in currently in the playoff race, sitting in eighth place on 30 points. They're only two points out of a playoff spot though having nine games still to play including tomorrow. The Whitecaps though have had their struggles this season, just last week they fell at home to San Jose who had yet to win a game on the road up to that point. Their designated player in midfield, Pedro Morales hasn't been playing like a designated player of late, and the club will likely be without two of their better younger players in Kekuta Manneh and Tim Parker. They will though have Kendall Waston available, who has had some fun match ups with Dom Dwyer in the past.

Kansas City left a few first teamers back in Kansas City as the team traveled down to Trinidad for their first Champions League game. Dwyer, Graham Zusi, and Benny Feilhaber I'd all expect to get the start tomorrow for Sporting in the league match between these two. The question with tomorrow's lineup probably comes with the rest of the midfield and back line as Roger Espinoza and Soni Mustivar both went 90 minutes in Trinidad. If they play tomorrow you would think this would rule them out for Tuesday's CCL game in Vancouver. On the back line it becomes a question of whether Ike Opara is recovered from his injury he suffered in Dallas. If not Lawrence Olum would likely be partnered by Nuno Coelho as it appears Matt Besler isn't ready to return yet and Kevin Ellis will likely be saved for Tuesday.

Zusi - Dwyer - Peterson
Feilhaber - Espinoza
Medranda - Olum - Coelho - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 5 - That's the number of home wins that Kansas City has at home. While their form away from home has seen them go 11 games without a win, the club has won their last 5 home games out scoring teams 12-3. Five is also Vancouver's current winless run, having gone 0-3-2 in their last five games.

Key Match Up - Peter Vermes vs Carl Robinson - This game will be a mind game for both coaches. Vermes and Robinson have to be focused on the game tomorrow, because when it comes down to it, making the MLS Cup playoffs and the regular season are what get coaches fired in MLS, not the CCL or US Open Cup. With that in mind both coaches have to be trying to get the win tomorrow to improve their playoff standing. But there will also be an eye towards Tuesday's CCL game in Vancouver. Both sides could rest some players ahead of that game.

PREDICTION - Vancouver has been in poor form as of late, while Kansas City has been doing quite well at home. On paper this should be a great opportunity to create some space between themselves and the chasing pack in the playoff hunt. While an eye towards Tuesday though, Vermes could rest some players to home for CCL advancement. With the way that Vancouver has been playing though I think KC can take all three points in this game to carry the confidence heading into the big CCL match on Tuesday.

SKC - 3 (Dwyer x2, Feilhaber)
VAN - 1 (Barnes)

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