Saturday, September 17, 2016

Match Day 30: Needing a Win

Sporting Kansas City find themselves in a troubling spot heading into the final few weeks of the MLS regular season. After results earlier today, Sporting Kansas City has fallen into sixth place in MLS' Western Conference, and currently just sit four points clear of the Seattle Sounders, who are in seventh place and still have a game in hand before KC plays tomorrow. With all those results, Sporting KC will kick off against the LA Galaxy at Children's Mercy Park feeling the late season pressure of the playoff chase. A loss and Kansas City's chances of making the playoffs start to really become worrisome heading into a three game road trip to some environments that have been less than inviting of late to KC.

The Galaxy will have a familiar face available to them tomorrow as former US national teamer, Landon Donovan came out of retirement last week and rejoined the Galaxy. Donovan is the third leading scorer all time against Kansas City with 13 goals, but only trails first place Jeff Cunningham by two goals. He came off the bench last week against Orlando, and I'd expect similar tomorrow for him. The bigger issue for tomorrow may be Giovani Dos Santos who is rounding into form for the Galaxy at the right time and will be a handful for Sporting to deal with defensively, and that's without throwing in other forward options like Robbie Keane or Sebastian Lletget in the midfield.

Sporting KC should have a fairly well rested lineup as there's only one player who saw the field on Tuesday that I think really has a chance of starting tomorrow, and that is Tim Melia in goal. Other than him I'd expect full scale changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Vancouver in the CCL. The only big injury worry for KC is Graham Zusi who will again miss out on the game due to a calf injury. The other injuries for KC are all squad players at this point with Chance Myers, Lawrence Olum, and the perpetually injured Justin Mapp. A team similar to last Friday's game against Houston, but with Jimmy Medranda back at left back seems the most likely.

Davis - Dwyer - Peterson
Feilhaber - Espinoza
Medranda - Besler - Coelho - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 1 - That's how many home games Sporting KC has left after tomorrow. Given KC still has yet to defeat a first division team on the road since April, getting full points from your remaining home games is absolutely imperative to Sporting KC at this point, they can't afford any more slips like last Friday.

Key Match Up - Dom Dwyer vs Brian Rowe - You have the third leading shot taker in the league, Dwyer (100), going up against the goalkeeper with the third most saves this season, Rowe (100). Dwyer has had to carry much of the goal scoring load for KC this season without a secondary scoring threat (other than Benny Feilhaber from the penalty spot). He's been quite successful doing it, but KC will have to ride him the rest of the way if they hope to make the playoffs and advance.

PREDICTION - This is basically a must win for Sporting KC, a loss or a draw with the three game road trip ahead of them and the playoffs become a big question for the club with the surging Seattle Sounders right behind them. The Galaxy haven't been a strong road team, but have been able to get themselves draws on the road with some regularity, and with their talent, it's not going to be easy for KC to get a win. Unfortunately I think this is going to be another disappointing result for KC that will leave them barely hanging onto a playoff spot and needing results on the road over the next few weeks.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
LA - 1 (Keane)

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