Adam Chernoff is confident in his bets as fatigue may loom for Seattle and deliberates his thoughts on the upcoming fixture of Whitecaps vs Kansas City
It was another frustrating weekend as readers of this column, and I hit a rut half way through the spring months. Atlanta earned a push and two late goals burned the Cincinnati Montreal Under and Kansas City handicap wager, giving back -2.28x. After Week 11, the MLS record stands at 6-8 (-3.37x).
Expected goals reared its ugly head on Wednesday evening when Toronto shot their way into the record books getting off 35 shot attempts – but scoring zero. Heading into the match, Toronto FC was the second most over performing team in the MLS based on GD vs xGD.
The title of biggest over performer belongs to Seattle, for another week at least. Unlike Toronto who has benefitted from fortunate finishing, Seattle has benefitted from fortunate defending. The goal differential compared to expected goal differential reads -9.75, but Seattle has performed a full five goals better on defence this season. Add in the fact that opponents have outshot Seattle by 24 total shots, and it becomes odd to see the Sounders ranked second in the Western Conference with 25 points.
The match on Saturday against Philadelphia is one where their streaky defending may catch up to them through the situation. Seattle played a midweek game on Wednesday evening against Orlando. This came off the heels of a Saturday night match against Houston. In both occasions, Seattle elected to play the majority of their starters.
Now playing their third match in seven days, the Sounders must travel 3,800 km, three time zones and six hours cross country. The looming fatigue is already rearing its head as Seattle lost Jordan Morris to a hamstring injury on Wednesday. Without him, the team takes on a very different tactical look in attack.
Seattle manager Brain Schmetzer loves to play wide with his fullbacks and work back into the middle from the endline. Jim Curtin leads one of the most aggressive defences in the MLS and has German defender Kai Wagner who is capable of shutting down Sounders go to fullback, Kelvin Leerdam. Nico Lodeiro is critical for Seattle’s creative success in the middle of the field, but the Union play midfield collectively and communicate extremely well.
This should be a match where the individual mistakes Lodeiro and Ruidiaz prey on, just won’t come. Without Morris, shutting down the two key cogs becomes significantly easier for Philadelphia. There is a significant speed advantage in favour of the Union which should play well into the fatigue factor Seattle may experience. The consistent attack will be enough to keep the Sounders pinned back and lead to scoring opportunities. Philadelphia is worth the wager.
We Are Lost
Never words you want to hear from a head coach, but they were the words spoken by Vancouver head coach Marc Dos Santos on Thursday in the Vancouver airport. The Whitecaps coach was met by media following the midweek home loss to Atlanta. He was asked what he expects the team to look like on Saturday, and he simply said,
“I am not going to lie to you, we are completely lost.”
The head coach was clearly feeling the effects of playing his second match in 92 hours, and it is difficult to think he worked anything out on the lengthy international flight from Vancouver to Kansas City.
This matchup on the road is a nightmare for the Whitecaps. Outshot by more than 60 attempts this season, Vancouver often gets pinned back and looks helpless. Generating just 0.3 xG against Atlanta at home, and failing to register a shot inside the box until after the 80th minute was problematic, and there is little to suggest the same does not occur against Sporting KC.
Both sides have enormous injury lists which should level the playing field. The Whitecaps will be without Reyna, Bangoura and Erice, while Kansas City will be without – well, almost everyone. One thing that injuries have not slowed down for Sporting KC is their ability to generate opportunities. With an equally beat up lineup, they were able to go on the road and generate nearly 1.5 xG against a strong DC United side.
On the season, only LAFC has generated more chances to score than Kansas City. The table, however, paints a very different picture with Kansas City in second last ahead of only Colorado.
In my opinion, the Whitecaps are in a far worse spot, and don’t have an answer for the chances Kansas City can generate. This is a terrible travel situation for Vancouver and another spot on the schedule where fatigue can catch up to a team forced to defend a constant attack. I am content to lay the single goal on the handicap.
- Philadelphia Union (1.77). Risking 1.29x
- Sporting Kansas City -1 (1.74). Risking 1.35x