KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 30: C.J. Sapong #17 of Sporting Kansas City controls the ball through New England Revolution defenders during the game on July 30, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
A different Philadelphia comes to Livestrong than the unit that suffered a 3-0 defeat. The heat should be on, and again Sporting will rely on a reserve heavy midfield to stifle the strength of New England's squad.
The New England Revolution return today for their second of three matches with Sporting Kansas City. The first match was a predictably laughable affair, worse because of a red card in the fourteenth minute. At that point, New England was expected to be that bad, but some savvy acquisitions have changed the team into a respectable unit at the least.
Lee Nguyen Supplants Feilhaber
Vancouver has made some strange moves this year, even if you cannot blame them just on results alone. Their outright release of Lee Nguyen was a head scratcher, as anyone familiar with him could see potential that at least would get something in return. After being signed by New England, Nguyen was inserted into the lineup for an injured Benny Feilhaber and has supplanted him as the center point of the midfield's attack. With Feilhaber in the lineup still, this means New England's strength lies in midfield with lots of players to supply Saer Sene up top. It would be better if Sporting plays more regulars or the possession problems they had in the first half of Houston will continue.
New England Still Is A Poor Team On The Road
New England is 1-7-1 on the road, which vastly differs from their 5-2-3 mark at home. The disparity in this case plays out in Sporting's favor, so we'll certainly take it. There isn't any indication of why, as no one would say Gillette Stadium is an intimidating venue so perhaps it's just an over-exaggeration of the natural home-road splits.
Midfield Questions for Sporting KC.
The hope from playing a reserve-heavy lineup in Houston is that a full squad team will be available tonight for Sporting KC. On the other hand. we may not know who is a reserve at the moment as, Espinoza is in London and Julio Cesar is on the outs with Vermes. Graham Zusi is nursing a quad strain, which explains his recent absence. So it may be that Zusi doesn't get on the field at all, but most likely not a full 90 either. The obvious replacement is suspended due to his recent bout of insanity, and the other replacements aren't so offensive minded. The likely midfield would be Juilo Cesar, Paulo Nagamura, and Michael Thomas but that offers very little offensive potential. Expect Zusi to play even if he is unable to go the entire match. An outside the box suggestion is to move Kamara into the central attacking midfield role as his work-rate best approximates Zusi's but that is just a crazy suggestion.
Michael Thomas - Paulo Nagamura
Sporting KC 2 New England 1
They've been solid at home lately and if Zusi plays they won't be overrun in the midfield. The flanks should be to Sporting KC's advantage so expect Myers and Kamara to control the game from the right.