If wide-open soccer with an edge to it is your sort of bag, well, have I got the match-up for you: Sporting Kansas City (4-3-2) and Chivas USA (3-3-2).
The Kansas City Star
Both teams have double digits in goals (10 for KC, 12 for Chivas), both teams have allowed a few goals (8 for KC, 11 for Chivas). Both are coming off weeks with high score lines (3-2 for KC, 2-2 for Chivas). Peter Vermes has repeatedly appealed for teams to come into Sporting Park and play soccer.* Juan Luis Sanchez Sola (aka El Chelis) has already said this year, "I would rather lose 5-4 or 5-2 than to win 1-0...I want fans to be happy and entertained."**
*Vermes got his wish last week against Portland. Wonder if teams seeing that they can open up and play KC will open up games this year that might have been more closed off?
** El Chelis is worth the price of admission, in case you hadn't heard.
Both teams love to foul too. Kansas City is in second in the league in fouls committed (134), Chivas is third (133 with one less game played). If both teams play to current form, there will be about 31 fouls called during the match. (New York is out in front with 150 fouls, but they've got 11 games under their belt and average less per game than either KC or Chivas.)
Chivas' central defender Bobby Burling has already served a suspension for yellow-card accumulation. That, again, is through 8 matches. Oriol Rosell for Kansas City has already drawn four.
So, this could get pretty interesting.
The match kicks off at 4 p.m. today at Sporting Park. It's Cinco De Mayo, which thankfully isn't some kind of American drinking holiday.***
***Please, if you're gonna drink: Get a designated driver.
If you can't make it out, the match is on KSMO-TV locally and UniMas nationally. Let's preview.
1. Kei Kamara is coming back, now what?
Kamara won't be on the field today (he won't be back until after the game), but his return definitely overshadows some of the build up to this game. Kansas City's offense has looked a little moribund of late (despite the two Chance Myers goals last week) and Kamara is like opening a jar of instant offense.
While Kansas City are a much more clinical (on paper) team without Kamara, they have lacked the unpredictability that he brings.
He's the irrational confidence shooter on a basketball team. Doesn't matter where he is or how well he's covered, he's going to get some sort of shot off. Sometimes it will be miraculous (think the scissor-kick goal against Toronto in 2011), other times it will sail harmlessly into the stands.
But here's where the questions start piling on top of each other in my mind.
Will he come back into the fold as motivated I-just-played-in-England-and-I-want-to-get-back Kei? Or will he sulk a bit because he got a taste of the primetime and has to come back to re-assert himself (and re-insert himself) into a team that's already prepped for life without him?
The locker room was his the last two years, who's locker room is it now and how will that dynamic change? How does the lineup change with him back in? Obviously, C.J. Sapong (not having a stellar start in the Kamara-role) would be most people's pick to hit the pine. How does his shoot-first-open-teammates-be-damned approach suit designated player Claudio Bieler? Does it take him further away from the game and isolate him?
None of these questions, however, are answerable until we get him on the field. Which could be as early as Wednesday
2. Will there be changes to the Starting XI today?
Is Peter Vermes still in charge? I'm giving it a 12% chance he makes more than one substitution (more on that in a second). He'll rotate on Wednesday. Maybe. I'm giving that 27% chance.
Baldomero Toledo. I think long-time MLS fans will have some sort of variation of the eye roll I gave to the "snow" coverage on Kansas City TV on Thursday. Maybe this? Over his career, he's bossed 151 MLS matches. He'll be busy (as you learned in the intro) and will likely top his average of 25.1 fouls called per game. Dude also gives out 3.4 yellow cards per match. 3.4.
Kansas City OUT: Teal Bunbury (left knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: Chance Myers (left hamstring)
Chivas OUT: Juan Agudelo (left hamstring strain), Oswaldo Minda (right quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: Jose Correa (left quad strain), Walter Vilchez (left MCL sprain), Miller Bolanos (left hamstring strain)
Cool Stat, Bro
2 The number of games Kansas City have won in the month of May with Peter Vermes in charge. #Cursed*
*That was my Opta Gooch moment for the week.
Best Lineup Guess
I think there will be two changes this week -- 1 for fitness issues, 1 for a change in dynamics. (As usual, I have a no-guarantee policy when it comes to lineup predictions. Just guesses.)
GK: Jimmy Nielsen-c; DEF: Mechack Jerome, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic; MID: Oriol Rosell, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber; FWD: Graham Zusi, Claudio Bieler, Bobby Convey
BENCH: Eric Kronberg; Ike Opara, Josh Gardner, Lawrence Olum; Jacob Peterson, Soony Saad, C.J. Sapong.
Kansas City 2, Chivas 2 I think there are goals and lapses on both sides.
MatchDay Hype Song
I'm going punk-rock with this one. It's a band I don't know all that well, but really enjoy: Them Damned Young Livers. I don't know if they are still together or not, but I'm a sucker for punk/country. The song is "You Better."