A rematch which will feel much like last year's match is on the books for tonight. The storyline is slightly skewed from that conference semi-final. A different group of Rapids are injured, but like last year the team is again star-crossed and never at full strength. For Sporting Kansas City, the pain is more figurative as they are on their longest losing streak since...well, last May (It's not our best month). Due to Roger Espinoza's suspension, the lineup will get a shake-up, but perhaps in the wrong way.
The familiar refrain for the Rapids is they will be missing several key players. Anthony Wallace, Pablo Mastroeni Ross LaBauex, Marvell Wynne, and Omar Cummings are all out for this match. On the positive side of that, Conor Casey started his first game since suffering an Achilles' tear last season. While I would never call Casey an example of the beautiful game, he is one of MLS's most efficient scorers and each side in this match is in need of that right now.
Wanted: Goals From Anyone
The goal by Bobby Convey ended a string of 235 scoreless minutes. The general lack of threat after the goal did not help to kill the idea of a team struggling to find ideas in the final third. Perhaps it's time for a change up top just to see if Teal Bunbury can find that spark he lost sometime last year. No other player has the offensive flair that Bunbury brings, but it hasn't been seen in a while. As for the rest of the team, Convey had perhaps his best game last week, but Kei Kamara was a shell of himself on the other side creating a trade off that changed nothing. Getting both wingers to be on their game would do wonders for an offense that needs great wide play to stretch defenses.
The suspension of Roger Espinoza is going to hurt more than we expect. Espinoza has been the best midfielder for Sporting this year and while Paulo Nagamura has filled in more than sufficiently for Julio Cesar, the energy of Espinoza will be missed. Seth Sinovic played in a reserve game last Sunday, and should be available for first team duty tonight. Up top, CJ Sapong will most likely start, but it would be interesting to see Teal Bunbury get a shot to start and to bring in Sapong's energy off the bench.
This game screams draw, but other than Toronto, there is perhaps no team Sporting KC would rather be playing. Injuries