Fresh off a bye week, Sporting Kansas City gets back to work with its first Eastern Conference opponent of the year: The Montreal Impact.
After three-straight losses to open the season, the Impact have drawn its last three matches. It's early days, but that's good for the worst record in the East.
On the other hand, Sporting KC weathered a difficult opening stretch and sit near the top half of the conference with a 2-1-2 record. They arebrimming with confidence and spent most of the break working on their finishing
Kickoff is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Sporting Park. You can catch the game at KMCI the Spot and other SKCTV channels throughout the midwest.
Here's The Full 90's quick tactical preview.
Tactical QuestionsCan KC's offside trap corral the Impact's forwards?
Montreal's Marco Di Vaio lives in the gray area between on- and offside. He's only played in three games this season and yet he's been flagged for offside 10 times. Only Portland's Maximiliano Urruti (12 in six games) and Dallas' Fabian Castillo (11 in six games) have more.
If that stat doesn't quite do it for you, try this one to hammer the point home: Di Vaio was called for offside 78 times. If you combined the numbers for the players who finished second and third in offside calls (Eddie Johnson and Deshorn Brown), you'd only have 71. Yeah, it's sort of the Di Vaio zone.
While he was flagged a lot, he also finished third in the league with 20 goals in 2013. Which means he gets his run right enough times to be lethal.
Why does this potentially matter? Well, Sporting KC's defense often plays a very high line at home. When it works, KC is able to limit the attacking space, compress the midfield and restrict offensive movement. When it doesn't, it leaves a lot of real estate in front of Eric Kronberg for a striker to operate.
How will Peter Vermes adjust his line to deal with Di Vaio? And what happens if young striker Jack McInerney — recently acquired from Philadelphia — starts alongside the Italian? KC's vaunted defense could have its hands full.Will Montreal bunker and frustrate KC?
New manager Frank Klopas has a history of dropping back and bunkering against Kansas City. Most memorably, his Chicago Fire squad did it during the home opener last year at Sporting Park.
For most of the game, all 11 Fire players were behind the ball. The bus wasn't only parked, it had no tires. It worked, as the game ended in a scoreless draw.**I'd link you to highlights, but I can't stomach watching that game again. Morrissey called after the match and thought it was a little too depressing.
Will a new team lead to a different game plan for Klopas? Or will the Impact's older lineup (five regular starters are over the age of 30) lead to Montreal frustrating KC by backing off and clogging the middle of the field?
KC has certainly had its problems breaking down a bunkered defense the last few years.
Thin at the Back
The bad news last week thatIke Opara will miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury
was compounded by the red-card suspension of Oriol Rosell. This leaves KC in a very precarious defensive position this weekend. Lawrence Olum will likely step in to replace Uri, as he's done several times this year and in the MLS Cup Final. Olum, however, is also the primary backup for both Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin. With Erik Palmer-Brown, KC's untested but highly-touted defender, away with the U.S. U-20 team, it leaves KC extremely thin in the middle of the park.
KC's other injuries: C.J. Sapong (neck strain) and Peterson Joseph (illness) are KC's only other injuries.
For Montreal, they'll be without the speedy Sanna Nyassi.
Bench: Gruenebaum; Ellis, Juliao; Martinez; Peterson, Toni, Bieler
PredictionKansas City 2, Montreal 0
At some point, KC's forwards are going to have to come through against a bunkered team. Why not against a team that's struggling to figure out how to win on the road?
Song of the Day
Fact: Most everything is made better by a little Queens of the Stone Age. Enjoy the game.