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Match Preview: Sporting KC at New York Red Bulls

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Sporting KC is in a three-game free fall. Can a trip to the Big Apple Red Bulls get them back on track?

Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

The current state of Sporting Kansas City supporters.

Oh-noes-everybody-panic_medium

Sporting Kansas City has now lost three games in a row for the first time since May 2012 and have given up nine goals in three games for the first time since August 2009. They are coming off a 3-1 loss at New England where they gave up two second half goals in the defeat. They do have some good news in the return of Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber to the lineup after each served a one-game yellow card accumulation suspension. Aurelien Collin also got the game off so he might be able to come into this game with a clearer head after his poor play the past couple of games.

New York Red Bulls

One year after winning the Supporters Shield, the Red Bulls are a very average team this year, currently sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference but only two points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand. They are led on offense by Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has scored more than half the Red Bulls' goals this year and currently leads the league in goals scored with 20. They give up about as many goals as they score with a +1 goal differential but they are a much better team at home with a +9 differential, as well as a getting a result in nine of their eleven matches at Red Bull Arena.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Aurelien Collin

The defense as a whole has not been good the past few games and it seems Vermes thought a night off would give Aurelien Collin some time to recover and help the defense get back to its staunch defending ways. This means he will be rested for this match, which will be beneficial as he'll need to be as he goes up against Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry. If a night off is able to stop Collin's slump it will go a long way in helping the Sporting KC back line recover. If not then the Red Bulls have the weapons to make it a very long night. Collin's play will be an important element in the result of this match.

New York Red Bulls- Jamison Olave

Olave will play a big part in helping keep Sporting KC's attack from getting good opportunities at goal. Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber are both returning on a full week's rest, so the middle of the field is going to be very important in this match. If Olave can keep Dwyer in check and not allow Feilhaber or the wingers to have a target to get the ball to, Sporting's attack is going to be frustrated. Like Collin at the other end, Olave's performance in this game can have a big impact.

How They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting's back line is going to have to step up in a big way this game and contain Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry. Sporting did show signs of improvement in the first half against New England but fell back to allowing to much space for Lee Nguyen in the second half. They need to not allow Wright-Phillips and Henry space to shoot. New York's defense isn't anything special and a rested Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber can be a force in scoring opportunities but the back line cannot be a liability like it has been the past couple of weeks.

New York Red Bulls

To beat Sporting, New York should play a high line and force the back line to make mistakes. If Sporting is going to try and play their high-pressing system against an average back line, it opens up the defense for counter-attacks, which is what New York has used to get results in their past two matches against Sporting KC. Igor Juliao can be caught too high due to his attacking abilities, allowing the right side of the defense to be open for the Red Bulls to take advantage. They have too many offensive weapons not to take advantage.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Gruenebaum; Juliao, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Olum, Claros, Feilhaber; Dovale, Dwyer, Zusi.

New York Red Bulls: Robles; Alexander, Olave, Sekagya, Miller; Sam, McCarty, Cahill, Oyongo; Henry, Wright-Phillips