Friday, October 13, 2006

Un Partido Grande

The Rumble in East Rutherford. The Fight for the Right to Party. For All the Marbles. Loser Goes Home. One and Done, etc. etc. etc. Yes, tomorrow's night's Red Bulls-Kansas City Wizards regular season finale at a chilly Giants stadium is a de facto playoff game, though a draw puts KC through. For the second straight season, NY has waited for the season's final match to determine its playoff fate. Tomorrow night could also be Youri Djorkaeff's final MLS match, and inactive Eddie Johnson's last night as a Wizard.

FSNYs airing of the game on a 2 1/2 hr tape delay will hopefully prod New York-area soccer fans to get their butts to the swamp. To the winner, a first-round date with a talented but slumping DC United side that is 1-3-2 since September 1st.

Here's how I see things breaking down:

The Kansas City forwards vs. The Red Bulls' back line:
Scott Sealy, Josh Wolff, and Dave van den Bergh vs. Jeff Parke, Marvell Wynne, Carlos Mendes, and Todd Dunivant (and Jon Conway). Sealy has paced the Wizards this season with nine of the club's forty-one goals. Dutchman van den Bergh has two goals in his first twelve MLS matches. Wolff has had a sub-par year. KC's offense has been clicking of late, scoring ten goals in the club's last four matches. New York relied a little too much on keeper Conway late in Colorado last week, though the mile high air played against the Red Bulls. The NY defense has been stingy down the stretch, with just seven goals allowed in the team's last five games, including two shutouts. Advantage: Push

New York's attackers vs. The Wizards' defense:
John Wolyniec and Jozy Altidore vs. Ryan Raybould, Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, and Jose Burciaga, Jr. (and Bo Oshoniyi). Woly and Jozy didn't hit the net last week in Denver, but a home crowd may pump up the ebony and ivory scoring tandem. Arena may consider starting Mike Magee and bringing Wolyniec in late in the game if New York needs a goal. KC has solid veteran defenders, including national teamer Conrad, whose broken jaw is still healing. Rookie Raybould is the one to take advantage of. Advantage: Kansas City

The Midfielders:
New York's Youri Djorkaeff, Amado Guevara, Danny O'Rourke, and Dema Kovalenko vs. Kansas City's Jack Jewsbury, Davy Arnaud, and Sasha Victorine. The midfields will be the difference-makers tomorrow night. Amado is playing extremely well lately, but traditionally has trouble meshing with Djorkaeff, who'll want to do something special in his possibly last night as a Red Bull. Kovalenko provides the X-factor. The Wizard side of the ball offers three skilled veterans that can both start the attack and score. Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Bruce Arena vs. Brian Bliss. If, as Bruce says, he wants to pass up the allocation and win this game, he should be able to push his team's buttons. Bliss is still learning, but his squad is 2-1-2 in its last five. Advantage: Push

Many NY players know that this could be their final outing with the club. Hopefully fans will brave the cool weather and turn out. Bliss knows new ownership won't look kindly on missing the playoffs. Red Bull knows next year is when the fun really starts. Advantage: Push

The Prediction:
The first goal will be critical. If KC gets scores in the game's first ten minutes, New York will fold. If the Red Bulls score first, it'll be a nail-biter until the end. Aw, heck, the team did it last year on the road. At home, it'll be that much easier. New York wins, 3-1

Here are your television selections for the weekend (times et). Enjoy.

9:30am: GER: Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin, GOL
10:00am: ENG: Arsenal-Watford, FSC
12noon: ENG: Reading-Chelsea, FSC
2:15pm: ENG: Middlesbrough-Everton, FSC
6:00pm: BRA: Sao Paulo-Juventude, GOL
6:00pm: MEX: Monterrey-Tigres, GALA
7:30pm: MLS: New England-Columbus, DK
: MLS: New York-Kansas City, DK (10pm TD on FSNY)
8:00pm: MEX: Chivas-San Juis, TELEF
8:30pm: MLS: Houston-Colorado, HDNet
8:30pm: COL: Millonarios-Atletico Nacional, GOL
10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-Morelia, GALA
10:30pm: MLS: Los Angeles-FC Dallas, FSC, DK
12mid: MEX: Atlante-Toluca, GALA

SUNDAY, Oct. 15
9:00am: ITA: Torino-Chievo, FSC
9:00am: ITA: Inter Milan-Catania, GOL
11:00am: ENG: Newcastle-Bolton, FSC
11:00am: ESP: Celta de Vigo-Valencia, GOL
1:00pm: MEX: UNAM-UAG, UNI
3:00pm: ARG: Banfield-River Plate, FSC
5:00pm: MLS: DC United-Chicago, ESPN2
: MLS: Chivas USA-Real Salt Lake, FSC, DK
: COL:
Independiente Medellin vs Deportes Tolima, GOL

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