Preview: Goats ready for match against Kansas City
5 p.m. PT; Prime Ticket, KWHY-22 (local); Direct Kick, MatchDay Live
Two teams on the 2010 MLS playoff bubble face off this Sunday as Chivas USA host Kansas City. The Red-and-White sit just two points behind the Wizards in the postseason standings and will be desperate for a win to extend their current five-game unbeaten streak at home.
Downing KC will be no easy task, however, as Peter Vermes’ men have lost just once in their last eight outings.
After a troubling start to 2010, the Goats are enjoying a late-season resurgence under first year head coach Martín Vásquez. Chivas USA are 4-3-3 in the their last 10 matches and are fully committed to making a push for the postseason.
A big win against New England last Friday coupled with a penalty shootout victory over sister club Chivas de Guadalajara on Tuesday night in San Diego have the Red-and-White firing on all cylinders as the final weeks of the season approach.
The talk of the Chivas USA camp recently has been the play of strikers Justin Braun and Alan Gordon. The two were a menace to New England’s defense last weekend and seem to have finally found the chemistry that had been missing from their relationship in previous games. If their partnership continues to improve, guarding the pair will be a difficult task for KC.
Kansas City Wizards
If Chivas USA are on a hot streak, then Kansas City are on fire.
The Wizards have been almost unbeatable since July 14, when a win on the road at Columbus sparked a run of good form that has earned the team an impressive 4-1-3 record since then. KC have been a handful on the road during that time, earning a win at Philadelphia and a draw at Los Angeles in the last two weeks.
Much of KC’s attack is funneled through Kei Kamara, and the Goats will certainly have their eyes on the Sierra Leone international on Sunday night. Also dangerous is playmaker Ryan Smith, whose seven assists this season tie him for fifth-best in MLS. He and Chivas USA midfielder Paulo Nagamura spent time together in the Arsenal system in London and there will likely be a strong battle between the two for control of the midfield on Sunday.
Heroes vs. Villains
Justin Braun vs. Shavar Thomas: Shutting down Chivas USA’s leading scorer will be a priority for Kansas City. Braun has been driving defenses crazy all season. But there is probably no better man to handle Braun than the KC and former Red-and-White center back Thomas, as he has the size and experience to deal with the forward.
Braun and Thomas played together at Chivas USA during the 2008 and 2009 seasons and know each other’s tendencies quite well. It should be a tight one as far as who comes out on top this weekend.
Stat that makes you go "Hmm"
As visitors, Kansas City have allowed the fewest number of goals in all MLS. But Chivas USA have never lost to the Wizards at the Home Depot Center.