SKC Chases Chivas at Sporting Park

Kansas City looks to improve on recent disappointments this Sunday
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Thursday, May 02, 2013

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.
In just the last 2 weeks, Sporting Kansas City has given up more goals than in the whole of month of March, and just as many in the rest of the season for that matter.
 
Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler's typically high backline was finally punished on April 20 in Los Angeles when SKC lost 2-0.

Then the team returned home for a supremely exciting game against the Portland Timbers and once again let itself down.

Sporting Park was as loud as ever on Saturday when Portland came to town, and the Timbers did not disappoint the supporters who traveled almost 2,000 miles.

Only 40 seconds into the game, Chance Myers scored his first MLS goal of his career. And later in the 29th minute, he notched his second in the same night.

But between those moments, a Ryan Johnson header from a corner and a Darlington Nagbe tap-in kept the Timbers level, with Rodney Wallace's second half goal giving Portland the win.

Both the second tying and the winning goals were midfield giveaways and defensive breakdowns. Fullbacks were caught up-field and central defenders were left in the dust.

Fast forward to May 5 when Sporting KC will take on a Chivas USA team that is only 3 points out of second in the Western Conference.

The Goats have a controversial new philosophy for building a squad. And new coach in Chelis, who perpetuates the same fashion of unorthodoxy, has somehow proven several doubters wrong. Chivas is team that plays with chemistry, style and teamwork.

Sporting's battle in the midfield is a winnable one, with Benny Feilhaber and Uri Rosell matching up with Chivas' Carlos Borja and Marvin Iraheta. Chivas' 3-man backline will bend under pressure from Graham Zusi and Claudio Bieler.

While on paper Chivas does not seem like any kind of formidable opponent, the Goats shocked LA Galaxy earlier in the year and fought a tough San Jose Earthquakes team last weekend and earned a 2-2 draw.

Key statistics for Sporting KC to win on Sunday will be winning the possession battle, getting shots on goal and making at least 1 or 2 of those goals. It seems that Sporting's old issue with finishing has finally subsided. Instead, the team’s new problem is making mistakes in the midfield, which could lead to mismatches in the defensive third and conceded goals. This weekend it will be all about getting the final ball through and finishing off what should be an easy team to beat.

Key player for Sunday’s match is Zusi. Matching up against Chivas' 3-man backline and Eric Avila on the wing, Zusi will make the difference for Sporting as the player whipping in crosses and playing through-balls into Claudio Bieler or CJ Sapong. Feilhaber will share this duty in central midfield.

Another important player in this match could be Jacob Peterson, who finally made his return as a substitute against Portland and possibly could start where Sapong previously did on the left wing. Peterson could be a breath of fresh air on the left as a player who is adapted to playing there, rather than a center forward assuming the position of left winger.

Perhaps one of the best goalkeepers in the league Dan Kennedy defends the Chivas goal this weekend, and it will be up to Sporting's attacking players to beat him in order to secure 3 points.

One of the best central defending tandems in the league in Collin and Besler look to make amends on Sunday, taking on the attacking threats of Jose Correa and Tristan Bowen. SKC might also have to deal with the always threatening Juan Agudelo, who's been out with injury. If Agudelo, Correa and Bowen all compete, Sporting may be in way over its head.

NEXT UP: May 5 – Sporting Kansas City vs. Chivas USA, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kans. 5 p.m. EST, UniMas.

Skylar ROLSTAD

Nationality:
USA
College:
Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.
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