Sporting Kansas City Hits the Road to Take on Vancouver and Portland

Alan Hainkel@@fntncitysoccerContributor IApril 16, 2012

KANSAS CITY, KS - APRIL 07:   Kei Kamara #23 of the Sporting Kansas City celebrates a goal against  the Los Angeles Galaxy at Livestrong Sporting Park on April 7, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. Sporting won 1-0. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Compared to last season's 10-game road trip to begin the year, this will be a piece of cake. After Saturday's victory over Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City is hitting the road for two games this week.

On Wednesday, they will take on the Whitecaps at BC Place in Vancouver. The Whitecaps are playing well, having only allowed three goals in their first five games. All three of those goals came in their first loss of the season against San Jose on April 7th.

On the other side of the ball, Vancouver has only scored four goals in 2012. Former Philadelphia Union forward Sebastian LeToux leads the team with two goals. Camilo and Jay DeMerit have the others.

The home field advantage will not be the only edge Vancouver has in this match. Their last game was that loss to San Jose, so they will have had 11 days off when they kick off against Sporting KC.

Sporting KC, on the other hand, will be playing their second game in five days and will have flown halfway across the continent.

The key for this matchup will be Sporting KC's offense versus Vancouver's defense. Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong each have three goals on the season, while Graham Zusi leads MLS in assists with six. Kei Kamara, not surprisingly, leads MLS in two categories; shots and shots on goal.

I think Sporting KC will come out with a victory, but it will probably be of the 1-0 variety (it would be the team's fourth straight 1-0 win).

JELD-WEN Field is the site of Saturday's clash with the Portland Timbers. The third game in eight days for Sporting KC will also be their last until May 5th at home versus the Montreal Impact.

To put it mildly, Portland is struggling right now. They've allowed three more goals than they've scored and are on a four-match losing streak. They took a lead Saturday on the road against the LA Galaxy, but gave up three goals to lose 3-1.

The key for this matchup is, again, Sporting KC's offense against Portland's defense (or lack thereof, lately). Portland has yet to keep a clean sheet, while Sporting KC has five, including the last three matches in a row.

I would be willing to bet Teal Bunbury starts this game. He's had a lack of playing time due to not only Sapong's strong start to the season, but he also missed two games because of a call-up to the US U-23 team for Olympic Qualifying.

I think Sporting KC will simply have too much firepower for Portland to deal with. While this game comes at the end of a long week, Sporting KC has shown that their team's fitness is on another level when compared to other teams. The work that the players put in, not only individually, but also collectively, is starting to pay off. By the end of Saturday's match, it almost seemed like Real Salt Lake was out of gas, but Sporting KC had plenty left in the tank.

It won't be easy, but I think Sporting KC has the potential to come home from this trip without a loss in their luggage.