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SOCCER: MAY 28 MLS - Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution

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Paramount Pitch Pit for Sporting KC’s Logan Ndenbe

Can Ndenbe out battle Revs’ talented right back Brandon Bye?

Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The point of Pitch Pit is to give fans something specific to look at during Sporting Kansas City matches, something that will likely have a significant impact on the result.

Sunday, as Sporting heads back to the pitch in a 2:00pm CT cross-conference clash on ABC and ESPN Deportes with New England Revolution, there is a good man v. man match up to keep an eye on. The match is unofficially the start of the second part of the MLS season after an international break. And both sides need points as they both are looking up at the 7th and final slot for a playoff berth in their respective conferences.

Sporting has been neither strong in the attack nor strong defensively through their first 15 matches and have gone 3-2-2 at home with a +1 goal differential. Meanwhile, the Revs are 1-3-2 on the road with a -3 goal differential. However, an even larger difference exists in goals scored. Kansas City has scored just thirteen goals all season, while New England has scored almost as much just on the road at 12, 22 overall.

One key to the Revs attack has been right back Brandon Bye, even to 2021 MLS MVP Carles Gil, probably the best all-around player in MLS who often finds Bye. Bye pushes high, thus Sporting’s newcomer left back Logan Ndenbe will have to keep #15 under wraps. See the passing network from the Revs’ last MLS match below for proof:

Vitals

Vitals Ht Wt Age MLS Seas Base Salary
Vitals Ht Wt Age MLS Seas Base Salary
Logan Ndenbe 5'9" 161 22 1st 350,000
Brandon Bye 6'0" 174 26 5th 325,000

Wheres and What they Gots

Belgian Youth International Ndenbe lines up at left back in Sporting’s usual 4-3-3 formation. Ndenbe is explosive on the dribble and an able, occasionally spectacular, passer to width in the open field. Early on, perhaps his strongest attributes have been his calmness on the ball in the back, his tenacity in one-on-one battles, and his ability to recover defensively if caught up field.

Bye, who New England picked at #8 in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, will likely be a part of a 4-3-2-1 lineup with striker Gustavo Bou solo. The Michigan native often displays a velvet touch, tricky quickness on the ball, and precision in his crosses.

Telling Stats

Telling Stats Int Duel % KP DRB % xG G g+
Telling Stats Int Duel % KP DRB % xG G g+
Logan Ndenbe 13 49.5 4 55 0.08 0 -0.36
Brandon Bye 5 64.3 27 72.7 0.66 2 0.88

Ndenbe’s 13 interceptions is good for fifth on Sporting. It is two other stats in which Ndenbe runs near the top, however, fouls committed and fouls suffered. Clearly, the man with the mighty calves has embraced the physicality of MLS as he is second on the squad in both categories.

Not only is Bye 2nd on the Revs in key passes, but he is also 2nd with four assists and leads all of MLS with 25 crosses from open play and clocks in at fourth in MLS with 27 chances created from open play.

Latelies

If one combines Ndenbe’s last two performances (including the 2-1 U.S. Open Cup win over Houston Dynamo May 25), it’s an impressive statistical performance - two key passes two tackles in the Open Cup and an 88.7 pass percentage in the last MLS match, a 1-0 home loss to Vancouver Whitecaps.

The 26-year-old Bye was in the running for MLS Player of the Week after assisting on all three goals in Cincinnati May 21st. See Bye’s skill on display for all three here. Yet, Bye was also beaten for a goal in that match.

Ink Links

Brandon Bye and Tommy McNamara named to Week 13’s Team of the Week - The Bent Musket from our sister SB Nation site for the New England Revolution

Logan Ndenbe starts in the Belgian U-21s UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying draw at Denmark | Sporting Kansas City (sportingkc.com)

Tactics

The push and pull is, of course, if Ndenbe (and his left midfield partner and winger) can keep Bye busy defending, Bye’s attacking impact will be muted and his defensive shortcoming may be manifested. The Revs have suffered all of 2022 with defensive issues, and they will be exacerbated by sterling goalkeeper Matt Turner being with the US National Team for this match ahead of his transfer to Arsenal.

New England leads MLS with 17 points dropped from winning positions and will also be absent striker Adam Buksa who led the side with seven goals through 10 appearances before a recent transfer to French side Lens.

Ndenbe’s could also put his physicality to work to throw off Bye, yet Ndenbe’s tactical acumen will have to be high to stop the Rev’s typical patterns executed by Gil and Bye. If Bye gets loose, and he just might because Ndenbe is not strong at shutting down crosses, it could be a long, hot afternoon for Ndenbe and Sporting.

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