Friday, September 30, 2016

Match Day 32: Last Trip Out of Conference

Sporting Kansas City close out the Eastern Conference portion of their season tomorrow when they will take on the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. This is the first time the two teams have met since May of last year and the two teams are both going to be fighting for their playoff lives. While Kansas City is currently in a playoff spot, they could put themselves one step closer to qualification with a win tomorrow. Meanwhile the Revolution are below the red line in the Eastern Conference and could see themselves eliminated with a loss and a combination of three other results going against them this weekend.

As mentioned the Revolution are fighting for their playoff lives right now, a surprise in that they have some great attacking talent in the likes of Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe, Teal Bunbury and the early season addition of former KC forward, Kei Kamara after his falling out in Columbus. The Revs though have actually scored fewer goals than Kansas City has this year while allowing the third most goals in the league this year, with 51. Their defense has been a big struggle for them this year with only really one true center back, Jose Goncalves on their roster. Goncalves missed last week's game and is still listed as questionable for the Revolution tomorrow, which could be a big plus for Kansas City not having to deal with him.

Kansas City's playoff chances are quite a bit better than the Revolution's, but at the same time are far from certain for the club. Sporting sit just two points above the Portland Timbers, who are currently below the line. A win tomorrow to move five points clear would go a long way towards putting Sporting into the playoffs. KC will welcome back Graham Zusi to the team tomorrow after a three game absence due to injury. His presence in the team tomorrow will be welcome and will provide another dynamic for the team going forward. Sporting will have to play tomorrow without their captain, Roger Espinoza though due to yellow card accumulation. He'll certainly be missed on the field, but with Paulo Nagamura healthy his absence may not be felt as much as some.

Peterson - Dwyer - Davis
Feilhaber - Nagamura
Medranda - Coelho - Ellis - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 11 - That's the number of league away wins that Kansas City has against the Revolution, the most of any team in MLS, tied with the Columbus Crew. They're one of the few teams that KC has a winning record against on the road. So KC has a history of being able to get all three points in New England, they'll hope to continue that tomorrow.

Key Match Up - KC defense vs Kei Kamara - Two straight weeks Kamara will face one of his old teams, this time one that he left on good terms, and a team where many fans still love him for his time here. He's made his way into MLS's top 20 all time leading goal scorers over his past two seasons. While he hasn't had as good of a 2016 as he had 2015, he's still a major factor that has to be game planned for.

PREDICTION - Of KC's remaining two games, I'd say that this is the most winable of the two. A win tomorrow wouldn't seal KC's place in the playoffs, but it would make them missing much more of a doubt. Given New England's defensive record this season, Sporting KC is going to get their chances in the game tomorrow, even on the road. It'll be a question of whether they can keep up the clinical finishing they had against San Jose and put chances away. If they can, and hold the New England attack in check this is definitely a game KC can win.

SKC - 2 (Dwyer, Peterson)
NE - 2 (Kamara, Nguyen)

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