Saturday, October 22, 2016

Match Day 34: All Down to This

Sporting Kansas City's season has all come down to this, one game at Children's Mercy Park against the San Jose Earthquakes, a win and their in the playoffs, a draw or a loss and the club puts themselves in the position where they need help to qualify. All the games tomorrow will take place at the same time as MLS completely embraces the final day drama with Decision Day. With all games occurring at the same time it'll create an intense atmosphere in the stands especially, where fans will likely spend time scoreboard watching on their phones during the game.

San Jose is eliminated from playoff contention and is just looking to play the role of spoiler against Kansas City tomorrow. The Earthquakes will be without Anibal Godoy, who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, it'll be the second straight game against KC he'll miss due to suspension. San Jose will also be without Quincy Amarikwa who suffered an ACL and LCL injury just seconds into the game the last time these two teams faced each other. The Earthquakes will still have Chris Wondolowski who always seems to cause KC headaches.

Sporting Kansas City rested pretty much their entire starting 11 on Wednesday in their final CONCACAF Champions League game against Central FC. The only regular starter that may start tomorrow is probably Jimmy Medranda, who had been suspended last weekend in league play. But he may not start in favor of Peter Vermes going with the "hot hand" on defense and start Seth Sinovic at left back, where he'd helped KC pitch a shutout on the road at Salt Lake. The other good news from last weekend's game was the fact that Tim Melia looks to be rounding into solid form again at the right time of the season making some good saves to preserve the shutout against RSL last week. Elsewhere on the field, Jacob Peterson (probably the most surprising "he needs to be a starter" call of the season) is listed as questionable and could be a game day decision after returning to practice late this week. If he can go it'll be a boost to Kansas City's offense, which struggled last week in his absences. His absence also continued the trend of breaking up probably the strongest part of KC's 11, their midfield, as Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza have both rotated up to one of the wing positions over the past two weeks.

Espinoza - Dwyer - Zusi
Nagamura - Feilhaber
Sinovic - Besler - Ellis - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 5 - That's how many goals KC gave up the last time these two teams played in Kansas City. It was the first win by San Jose in KC since 2002. The game is certainly one that has to at least be in the back of he minds of a few of those players, especially those that remember the little details like Benny Feilhaber seems to.

Key Match Up - Matt Besler vs Chris Wondolowski - The US national team teammates are quite familiar with each other after spending numerous friendlies, qualifiers, and a World Cup together. Wondolowski has been the focal point of the Earthquakes attack for seven seasons now, shutting him down is still the key to shutting down the Quakes tomorrow.

PREDICTION - The Quakes really aren't that good of a team this year (and frankly, KC isn't much better), they've scored the fewest goals in the league this year (just 32). At the same time that have allowed the third fewest in the league this season, with just 38, this game unfortunately looks like it could be a slow, sluggish affair based on the way the Quakes play. It'll likely fall on KC to try to open the game up more, something that they have not shown a real ability to do throughout the season. KC's not a team that has attacked quickly under Vermes, they've been able the build up, and against a Quakes team coached by Dominic Kinnear he's going to have the team compact and ready for this game. If KC can't get an early goal, I have a feeling this is a game that is going to leave KC fans stressing and sweating, especially if Portland can start to get a result on the road in Vancouver.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
SJ - 0

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