Monday, September 12, 2016

CCL Match Day 3: A Must Win

Sporting Kansas City step back out of league play to begin their home stretch of this year's CONCACAF Champions League. Unfortunately the games probably couldn't have gone much worse for Sporting KC. After the Vancouver Whitecaps started off the group with a win in Trinidad against Central FC, Sporting could only draw their game in Trinidad, already putting KC at a two point disadvantage. Then KC had to go play up in Vancouver and Kansas City put themselves in an even wrose situation, falling 3-0 on the road, leaving them with just a single point from their first two games, while the Whitecaps sit on six. That makes tomorrow night's game at Children's Mercy Park a must win for Kansas City to keep their qualification hopes alive even a little bit. A loss or a draw will clinch the group for the Whitecaps and see Kansas City go out in the group phase for the second straight time in the tournament.

The Whitecaps come into the game having won their last league game, their first league win since back on July 13th, a stretch of eight league games without a win. In that same stretch though the Whitecaps did take care of business in the CCL and have themselves sitting pretty. Against the Crew over the weekend the Whitecaps did have Pedro Morales and Tim Parker on the bench, so that pair should be rested for tomorrow's game, as should Nicolas Mezquida who only played 11 minutes. Also, former Sporting defender Marcel de Jong didn't dress at all after appearing for two games for Canada this past week. Those players should all play a role for the Whitecaps tomorrow as they look to wrap up the group before hosting Central FC.

Kansas City will try to pick up the pieces of their CCL run, right on the backs of their last second home draw against the Houston Dynamo when they blew two leads, the second coming deep in stoppage time. Sporting will apparently have four Swope Park Rangers players available to them, with Kris Tyrpak joining previously called up Amer Didic, Ualefi, and Tyler Pasher. Tim Melia will also be making his return to the Sporting KC starting 11 after missing time with back spasms. Sporting will again have to balance their roster with another big league game at home on Sunday against the LA Galaxy as they continue to push to hold onto their playoff spot. Unfortunately for KC, Nuno Coelho pulling up lame again on Friday night could complicate some of those plans for tomorrow's and Sunday's games.
Hallisey - Rubio - Porter
Appiah - Nagamura
Medranda - Didic - Opara - Myers

Key Match Up - Diego Rubio vs Vancouver defense - Sporting KC's Chilean forward hasn't scored since the club defeated Minnesota United in the US Open Cup back in June, at the same time he hasn't exactly gotten a ton of minutes either, while he's started both of KC's prior CCL games, he's only made three league appearances in KC's nine games. While a permanent move for Rubio has been completed, you would hope that the want to impress and win himself more time would be a factor here. With the first set of tie breakers being tie breakers between the two tied teams, Sporting KC is going to need to overturn the 3-0 loss they had in Vancouver if they hope to have any tiebreaker over the Whitecaps.

Number to Remember - 3 - That's the least amount KC needs to win by against Vancouver to really put the pressure on Vancouver heading into their game against Central FC. The first few tie breakers in the CCL are head to head based, meaning points vs tied teams, goal difference between tied teams, and goals scored away from home between tied teams. The third tie breaker is what put KC out of the tournament the last time they were in. A 3-0 or better win would mean that Vancouver would have to win against Central FC, or the door would be open for KC to advance if they defeat Central on the last match day, instead of just a draw. A goal by Vancouver tomorrow though and the three goal win becomes needing a four goal win to avoid that third tie breaker going in Vancouver's favor since KC did not score in Vancouver.

PREDICTION - With Peter Vermes at this point fully focused on keeping Sporting KC on the road to the playoffs, a full reserve lineup against the Whitecaps isn't going to be a surprise tomorrow night. It's a chance for someone to step up though and make a claim for themselves to get more time in league play down the stretch. Unfortunately as has been the issue for this team for much of the season, I don't see them producing much in the way of goals without Dom Dwyer involved. With the mostly reserve lineup I'm not sure that KC will be able to get the win tomorrow, let alone overturn the goal difference required to really put the pressure on Vancouver when they host Central on the 28th.

SKC - 1 (Rubio)
VAN - 1 (Techera)

No comments: