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LIVESTRONG Sporting Park update and a weekend prediction
The last time I took a tour of Sporting Kansas City's new stadium-in-the-making, it was March and the final strip of grass had just been placed. There were a few seats installed and there was concrete and wire everywhere. It was still an impressive sight, but it was hard to imagine what it might look like on opening day.
Fast forward to Friday. I took my second tour of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The stadium is set to open in just 12 short days on June 9. This time around, it was much easier to imagine a crowd in the stands and players on the field. In just under two months, the crews working to get the stadium ready have been putting in some intense hours and it shows. All the seats are in place. The video boards are functioning. There is carpet in both locker rooms. The taps are even installed in the bars.
Now it's just a sprint to the June 9 finish line, when Sporting KC will finally end its 10-game road trip and debut against Chicago in its brand new home. There's still a lot of work to finish, but crews are working double-time to make sure everything gets taken care of. The experience on that first game night should be memorable.
I put together a video walk-through of the stadium for those who haven't had a chance to see it yet. This tour takes you around the field on all sides, through the home and away team locker rooms and up to the VIP seats. There were plenty of highlights this time through, too. There is no bad seat in the stadium. They all have a gorgeous view of the field and the incline of the seats is such that you feel close to the field no matter where you sit. The seats are comfortable, too. That is always a good thing.
The open roof covers all the seats. It should be interesting to see how well the stadium retains crowd noise. My guess is it will probably get pretty loud.
Check it out:
Less than two weeks now...
There is some other business pending for Sporting KC. The team travels to take on Colorado at 8 p.m. Saturday night. Colorado currently sits in fourth position in the Western Conference. Sporting, after dropping the game against Seattle last week, is currently last...in all of MLS.
There was some good news for Sporting KC this week though. The team played its final qualifying game against New England on Wednesday. For the first time this season, Sporting played as the home team, holding the match in Overland Park. The team responded with a 5-0 dismantling, crushing their conference opponent with relative ease and posting a shutout. The team played well on both sides of the ball for the entire 90 minutes.
My hope is that the midweek contest gave the team some much-needed confidence. I also hope that the offensive explosion is a sign of things to come for Sporting in the next few weeks. It's unfortunate that when Sporting finally put everything together for a game it didn't earn any points toward the league. It did earn a spot in the U.S. Open Cup though, which isn't a bad consolation prize. It means more exposure and competitive play for a team that is behind most in the league for games played so far this season.
Looking at the numbers, it's safe to say Saturday's game against Colorado is one which Sporting should walk away from with at least a point. Colorado has scored 14 goals and conceded 12 on the season, which points to some defensive issues that haven't yet been addressed. Sporting, with its speed in the midfield, should be able to find gaps and create decent scoring chances. You could compare Colorado's stats with Kansas City's, but that's a little hasty, considering Colorado has played five games at home, where it's supposed to score and win. Kansas City, obviously, has played zero home games. Sporting's play during the past few weeks may have been shaky and at times awful, but no team in the entire league has won more than three away games. KC's is pretty comparable to many in MLS, especially in the Eastern Conference where no team has more than one road victory.
Who wins this game will come down to which Sporting KC team decides to show up in Colorado. If it's the team that played New York to a 1-0 loss or the team that won 5-0 on Wednesday, Kansas City walks away with its first regular season victory since March 19. If it's the Sporting team that makes critical mistake after critical mistake, it could be a long night. My prediction is that it'll be somewhere in between the good and the bad. If the defense can just play together for the full 90 minutes, Sporting will walk away with at least a point, even with four players missing from the lineup with national team duties.
I'm picking Sporting to piece together a victory somewhat shorthanded with solid defense. They win, 2-1.
Game: Sporting KC at Colorado Rapids
Time: 8 p.m.
TV: KSMO on channel 3 (standard def) or 203 (HD)