About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
An eight-game unbeaten streak was snapped last week for Sporting Kansas City as they fell 2-1 at Real Salt Lake. The bad news is that the loss kept them middle of the pack in the Western Conference, but they still have at least two games in hand against all five teams in front of them and the fourth-best points per game average in the league. This will be the last match until after the Gold Cup runs for Graham Zusi and Marcel de Jong, so expect to see them featured for ninety minutes, while Chance Myers might get his first league start since returning from injury.
The Rapids have been poor in 2015, anchoring the Western Conference with 15 points on the season in 16 games. This is a team that can be frustrating to play against with their nine draws on the year, most in the league. They do have a lot of young talent in Dillon Powers, Shane O'Neil and Clint Irwin but they have not been able to put it together the past couple of seasons. They will be without defender Axel Sjoberg and midfielder Juan Ramiez.
Who to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Benny Feilhaber
We all know the idea of an opposing team coming into Sporting Park and sitting back to try and earn a point. Colorado is a prime target for this strategy, especially considering how well Sporting has done at home in 2015, so it will take some creativity in the attack to get in a goal. Benny Feilhaber has been the best at getting the ball into small spaces and windows this year and if the Rapids come in and attempt to park the bus, Sporting KC will need the services of Feilhaber to be available to try and find a crack.
Colorado Rapids- Clint Irwin
Irwin is likely going to be called into duty several times during this match considering how well Sporting KC has been attacking this season. If the Rapids do sit back and force Sporting KC to take shots from outside the box, then Irwin will play a part in roaming the line and making sure that he is a stalwart behind the defense. If the Rapids decide to spread the field, Irwin will have to be able to distribute well to keep Sporting back, as well as playing well when the home side are on the attack as well.
Why They'll Win
Sporting Kansas City
This is one of those matches that seems to favor Sporting in pretty much every way. They have more rest than the Rapids, coming off a midweek match, they're undefeated at home, they're riding a recent streak that has them winning three out of their last five matches and they simply have the better personnel on the pitch. Sporting will win this game by playing like they have the past couple of months: Musitvar playing well in the midfield, Feilhaber setting up the attack in the middle and Nemeth and Dwyer lingering as threats to score near the top. Sporting needs to control this game from the get-go and there should be no reason they lose this match.
As pointed out in our interview with Burgundy Wave, the Rapids actually have some success when they score the first goal of the match, going 2-0-2. While it is a small sample size, an early goal would allow the Rapids to take a lead and then play disruption ball for the remainder of the game. They can play frustrating ball and can clog the middle and if they get a goal early, they might even be able to take away three points but it will take a large effort on the part of many, many players.
Sporting KC: Melia; Myers, Belser, Ellis, de Jong; Mustivar, Espinoza, Feilhaber; Nemeth, Dwyer, Zusi
Colorado Rapids: Clint Irwin, Michael Harrington, Drew Moor, Shane O'Neill, Marlon Hairston, Marcelo Sarvas, Sam Cronin, Dillon Serna, Dillon Powers, Charles Eloundou, Kevin Doyle