About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Aurelien Collin's second half goal that brought Sporting KC to within one goal on aggregate could end up being a huge factor in how Sporting fares in the second leg. As the two seed they get to use their home park to try and spur them to victory over the New England Revolution. Unfortunately for Sporting, their home record this year isn't very good as they come in 9-3-5 on the year at home. They'll be missing two midfielders, Lawrence Olum and Peterson Joseph, so a Benny Feilhaber and Paulo Nagamura appearance in the midfield is a near certainty.
New England Revolution
The Revolution took advantage of their home leg by scoring two goals in the second half to give them an advantage going into the second leg. With that advantage, they have the ability to sit back at Sporting Park and put numbers behind the ball. However they have a team that is similar to Sporting in the fact that they are an offensive minded team with a really good defense. They may try and sit back but they are also built to attack. They are also a young team that hasn't done well on the road this season. However they hold the advantage and are winning until they're not.
Who to Watch For
Sporting Kansas City- Dom Dwyer
Dom Dwyer didn't start on Saturday (*throws remote against wall for umpteenth time*) but came on as a sub and performed reasonably well. If Peter Vermes isn't going to play Claudio Bieler then Dom Dwyer is our best option to score. He puts pressure on the defense and his speed is a big factor in getting behind the back line. We will be targeted often and will be a big reason why Sporting KC wins or does not win. If he can press the New England defense back and force numerous shots they'll be bound to go in at some point. (We hope)
New England Revolution- Jose Goncalves
New England needs defense in this match and Jose Goncalves has been giving them defense all year. Goncalves will be an important piece in the Revolution defense as they try and keep Sporting KC out of the net. His position in the center will be important because he will be responsible for keeping Dom Dwyer in check and not allowing the Sporting KC center forward any opportunities on goal. Goncalves was a concern last week when a hamstring injury almost kept him out of the first leg but he played, performed admirably and will likely do the same in the second leg.
How they will win
Sporting Kansas City
New England is going to be playing for a draw. They are going to put numbers behind the ball and they are going to force Sporting to break the bunker. Sporting needs to be smart this game. They will be able to control possession and keep the ball in New England's half but they cannot settle for bad shots. They have to get the ball inside the box somehow and force good shots. It's going to be difficult, especially with the good defense that the Revolution has, but Sporting has the ability to pressure them into giving up a goal. After that it's anyone's game.
New England Revoltion
One thing that Sporting KC is susceptible to in their high pressure system is counter attacks. The good news for the Revs is that they have really good personnel to strike quickly on a counter-attack and put Sporting KC's chances to win to bed. They only need a draw so they will bunker and put numbers behind the ball but if they can get the ball to Fagundez, Agudelo or Imbongo in space behind Sporting KC's defense then they will have no trouble getting goals and sending themselves through to the Eastern Conference finals.
Sporting KC: Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Rosell, Nagamura, Zusi, Saad, Dwyer, Sapong
New England: Reis, Barnes, Goncalves, Soares, Farrell, Dorman, Fagundez, Rowe, Nguyen, Agudelo, Imbongo
Sporting Kansas City 2-1 (4-3) New England Revolution
Yes, I'm predicting PKs tomorrow. Having Bieler on the bench might be wise Vermes. Let's do this.