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New York City vs Sporting Kansas City

The season is heating up with teams fighting for automatic spots in the final series and the play-offs however two sides with lofty ambitions meet at Yankee Stadium.

Sporting Kansas City arrive in the Big Apple having games in hand on their Western Conference rivals and a win here would see them top of the table.

New York City could reduce the gap on Toronto at the top of the Eastern Conference to six points but they could widen the gap on third place Chicago to six points by being victorious here.

Patrick Vieira’s men are unbeaten in four games having drawn 1-1 in the Hudson River Derby last time out at Red Bull Arena but you have to go back to April for their last home defeat. Since then their home record is P9, W7, D2, L0.

SKC have only lost once in their last 11 games and that was in their last away game at Seattle when going down 1-0. Their last 11 games have seen four wins, six draws and that defeat.

However Peter Vermes side have struggled on their travels this season. They’ve played 12 matches with their record being: W2, D5, L5. They’ve also failed to score in eight of those 12 away games, so that has to be an issue they need to address if they want to challenge for the MLS Cup when it gets to the nitty-gritty of the play-offs.

 

TEAM NEWS:

David Villa was called up to the Spain squad for their two World Cup qualifiers but he has sustained an adductor muscle. He was unlikely to feature in this but that is likely to rule him out for a few weeks.

Alexander Ring, Rodney Wallace and Yangel Herrera have also been on international duty meaning won’t be available.

Vieira already had a long list of injuries with Ronaldo Matarrita out for months along with Miguel Camargo, Maxi Chanot and Ethan White.

It looks like Tommy McNamara and Andrea Pirlo will both start in midfield with starts for Sean Okoli and Jonathan Lewis too.

Sporting Kansas City have had Matt Besler and Graham Zusi featuring for the USMNT while Soony Saad and James Musa have also represented their nations.

Vermes still should be able to field a strong side with Ike Opara, Been Feilhaber, Latif Blessing and Gerso all available.

PREVIEW:

This is only the third MLS meeting between the clubs but SKC have held sway so far winning both matches, including a trip to Yankee Stadium in March 2015.

The last meeting came last July where SKC ran out 3-1 winners in a game that was 2-1 after 16 minutes in a crazy opening meaning four of the five goals scored in games between this side have been in the first half.

However on this season’s evidence I can only make a case for an NYC first half goal with SKC only having scored three first half goals in 12 away games so far.

But the quandary with this game is that NYC have been weakened by injuries and the international absences all over the field whereas SKC are only weaker at the back without Zusi and Besler.

All the form says a Home Win (2.22) but because of those absentees I couldn’t be touching an outright market.

With the players missing for NYC the SKC or Draw Double Chance (1.67) was an option but is short given their poor travelling.

Ten of SKC’s 12 away games have been Under 2.5 Goals (1.99) could look to be an option because they’ll try to frustrate NYC and keep things as tight as possible, so I wouldn’t rule out this going against the grain of a typical NYC home game.

I’m putting up two bets for this piece – one in the anytime goalscorer market and one in the corner handicaps market.

I’ll start with corners where NYC games average 9.96 compared to SKC’s average of 8.76 but I’m looking more at team totals.

NYC have landed the -1 Corner Handicap (1.91) bet in seven of their home games this season and that is the area to look at because SKC haven’t been notching the corners lately.

SKC’s last three away games have seen them take 2, 1 & 3 corners meaning if you backed the home side -1 corner handicap then it’d have landed. Despite the Yankee Stadium being similar to their home ground they aren’t a side that rely on corners compared to NYC, so feel this is a market to exploit.

I generally like to back players who have form against certain opposition and that’s what SKC defender Ike Opara (8.00) has after netting in both previous meetings.

He does have two goals this season and the NYC defence isn’t the strongest from set pieces, so the 7/1 on him to net is attractive but I’m backing an NYC player.

That man is Jonathan Lewis (4.33), who is likely to deputise in Villa’s absence. The 20 year old has made eight appearances for NYC with five being from the bench but he looks set for his fourth start here.

He has two goals in his last three games. He started in the away win at LA Galaxy and grabbed himself a goal while he also netted a last gap winner against New England, so he does have some form in front of goal lately.

Given that NYC still have the dead ball specialist of Andrea Pirlo set to play here plus creative flair provided by Maxi Moralez and Jack Harrison then he does look a tempting price to make it three goals in four games against a defence that have conceded 11 away goals.

 

BETS:

NYC -1 Corner Handicap (1.91)

Jonathan Lewis Anytime Goalscorer (4.33)

 

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