Friday, September 23, 2016

Match Day 31: An Unwelcome Road Trip

In desperate need to try to shore up their playoff chances, Sporting KC head on the road for three straight games before closing out the season at home. Sitting just five points above the red line, and having not won on the road against a first division team since April, KC will be trying desperately to try to hang onto that playoff spot. They'll start the road trip tomorrow in San Jose, probably the least hospitable place for Kansas City.

The Earthquakes are still alive in the race to qualify for the playoffs, sitting in ninth place in the West, but only six points behind Sporting KC with two games in hand on them. That makes tomorrow's game a much more interesting match up as a loss and KC's lead is down to just three and the Earthquakes would still have two games in hand. The Quakes look like they may be without Aibal Godoy, the Panamanian midfielder who scored twice last year against Kansas City is recovering from a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable.

Kansas City has finally been getting goals from that second goal scorer that they've lacked for most of the season as Jacob Peterson is hitting career highs for goals and close to career highs in starts and minutes played for his MLS career. He's helped to create a secondary threat that has allowed Dom Dwyer to get some space as well the last few games. Unfortunately for KC the extra support offensively has been offsason by a leaking defense that has allowed five goals in the last two home games. Now they go on the road where they have scored one goal or fewer in 11 of KCs' 14 road games. Sporting's defense will be the first thing that will need to clean itself up if KC wants to make any sort of run towards the playoffs in this road stretch.

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

Number to Remember - 5883 - That's how many days it has been since Sporting Kansas City won a game in San Jose, the last win was on 8/16/2000 when KC beat the Earthquakes 3-0 on goals by Francisco Gomez, Vicente Figueroa, and Chris Henderson.

Key Match Up - KC defense vs Chris Wondolowski - Sporting KC have played five games on the road across all competitions, and in those five games Kansas City have allowed 12 goals, an average of 2.4 goals per game. Going up against one of the league's highest goal scorers of all time doesn't seem to be the best way to cure your defensive woes though.

PREDICTION - Kansas City need to get something out of tomorrow's game, a loss and Kansas City really put their playoff position in a precarious situation heading into the final three games of the season. San Jose for their part have won just one time in their last nine games, at the same time they've only lost twice, so the team seems pretty predictable for a draw tomorrow. It won't end the winless run either this year or in San Jose, and it won't do Kansas City a ton of good, but it'll be better than a loss, which has been the case on most of KC's previous trips to San Jose.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
SJ - 1 (Wondolowski)

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