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In which our heroes achieve a crucial CCL victory and now control their own destiny. Sort of.

So before the match last night (and what a match, m i rite?) there was some banter about how important this match was, and how it could in fact be THE defining match of the CCL group. Now that it's all said and done, I was curious to find out how true that was (no match ratings for this one, something I've been remiss in lately, apologies). Turns out that, yeah, getting a two goal win was a really good thing (obviously), but by no means does that close the door just yet.

The short summary...




Sporting Kansas City now tied on points with Saprissa, and ahead on head-to-head GD, with a game in hand, so things are looking up, but they still need to play Saprissa on the road. A win against Saprissa and Sporting goes through in any scenario. A one goal loss would also put them through, provided Sporting beats Real Estelli. A draw against Estellia and any loss to Saprissa means Sporting go out. Two losses and sporting is out.

There are two scenarios that are kind of complex... If sporting beats Estelli by one goal, then loses to Saprissa by two goals, Sporting and Saprissa both sit on 7 points with a head to head GD of 0 and it would go to away goals, of which Saprissa already has one, so it would depend on the way Sporting loses to Saprissa. A 0 - 2 loss would put Saprissa through. A 3 - 1 loss would push it to overall goal difference, and would have Sporting at +1 with Saprissa at +3, so they'd advance.






If Sporting beats Estelli by two goals they would still go out on GD with a 3 - 1 loss, at +2 and +3.

If Sporting beats Estelli by three goals, then loses to Saprissa by 3 - 1, it would go to total group goals scored and... yeessh. It gets complicated quick. Any scenario that involves Sporting losing to Saprissa by two goals involves the manner in which they lose, and by how much they score against Saprissa.







Here is a rough breakdown of advancement scenarios, though I'm sure there's errors all over.

















To come up with percetage estimates, I looked at Sporting's season long average GD per game (+0.3) and the standard deviation of GD per game (+/- 1.8) and assumed a normal distrubtion. So the breakdown of predicted results, ranging from a 6 goal loss to a 6 goal win, looked something like this.







Odds of a six goal loss = 0.02%
Odds of a five goal loss = 0.11%
Odds of a four goal loss = 0.57%
Odds of a three goal loss = 2.35%
Odds of a two goal loss = 6.99%
Odds of a one goal loss = 16.47%
Odds of a draw = 30.17%
Odds of a one goal win = 24.53%
Odds of a two goal win = 12.15%
Odds of a three goal win = 4.72%
Odds of a four goal win = 1.41%
Odds of a five goal win = 0.32%
Odds of a six goal win = 0.06%







So this estimates that sporting wins 43% of their games, draws 30%, and loses 27%. Those numbers are in decent agreement with this season, as Sporting have won 45%, drawn 21%, and lost 34%.



Good enough for this effort, at least... Roughly.
















So you can see, the most likely scenario (Sporting draw both games) puts us through. Overall at this point, Sporting look to have a roughly 72% chance of advancing, a 20% chance of not going through, and then there's 8% worth of tie-breaker scenarios that are challenging to evaluate yet.






Overall I think the two goal win was sort of a big deal. In knockout tournements like this I think teams should generally be expected to win their home match by one goal. Having a second goal as a buffer really makes life easier when playing the away leg. Having a game in hand is also icing on the cake. Just a draw against Estelli means that Saprissa will need to play for a win and boosts SKCs advancement odds up by about 9%. Beating Estelli means Saprissa will need to win by more than one.



At the end of the day, of course, these numbers mean nothing. The really important part in my mind is Sporting is now in the driver's seat. And all of this is predicated on the notion that the only important thing is advancing from the Group, which I don't think is neccessarily true. We saw last year how important seeding in the next round is, so I'd really really like to see two wins and 10 points.



So, yeah. Good game. Good result. We're in good shape. But nothing is over yet, and we all know that sometimes Sporting likes to make games... well... interesting. Still, this is a competition I realy like and I'd love to make a deep run this year.






And if you catch any errors in my scenario analysis (I'm sure there's some), please let me know in the comments and I'll try to correct.









Dovale's second-half brace gives Sporting KC a 3-1 win, and control of Group 2.
Sporting Kansas City grabbed a big win in Champions League as they defeated Saprissa 3-1.
Dom Dwyer supplied his 20th goal of the year on a penalty, which Toni Dovale put in two second half goals for the victory.
Dwyer's goal would come relatively early in the match after Sporting Kansas City had been creating some good opportunities. He flicked a ball through to Benny Feilhaber, who was not able to get a shot off before being tackled by the keeper. After a questionable yellow to the keeper, Sporting was awarded a penalty. Dwyer slotted it home, right past the keeper's hand, for his 20th overall goal this year.
Saprissa would rebound in the 28th minute, however. A half-volley from Bustos following a nice assist to the top of the box was rocketed into the far corner for the score. The equalizer would carry the two teams to half time, making it 1-1 at the break.
The second half would be much better for the home side, thanks to Toni Dovale. Dovale, who had scored Sporting KC's lone goal against Real Esteli earlier in the group stage, got his chance in the 69th minute when he received a ball at the top of the box. In a similar move to Bustos' goal earlier, Dovale fired a shot to the far corner to put Sporting KC up 2-1.
Seven minutes later, Dovale was on the scoresheet again. Dwyer sent a ball across the face of goal that was met at the opposite end by Dovale. Dovale finished top shelf over the keeper for his second of the night, giving Sporting KC the 3-1 lead.
That score would carry through to the final whistle, giving Sporting Kansas City the 3-1 victory. This win gave Sporting control of Group 2 in the CONCACAF Champions League. They are currently tied on points with Saprissa, both with four. Sporting KC, however has a game in hand and will have a chance to fully overtake the group Tuesday when they host Real Esteli.
Sporting Kansas City and Saprissa will meet once more in the final matchday of Group 2. They will converge in Costa Rica on October 23rd, where a win against Real Esteli would mean that Sporting KC would only need a result in this final match to win the group and advance to the quarterfinals.

Sporting KC hosts Saprissa in a big Champions League match.

The Teams

Sporting Kansas City
League: Major League Soccer (United States)
Record: 0-0-1
How they got here: Winner of 2013 MLS Cup
Manager: Peter Vermes (6th season)



Deportivo Saprissa



League: Primera División de Costa Rica

Record: 1-0-1

How they got here: 2014 Verano Champion



Manager: Rónald Alfonso González Brenes (2nd season)


Other Info
Table

Lineups



Date: September 18th, 2014

Gametime: 7:00 pm central

TV: Fox Sports One

Location: Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kansas

Sporting KC takes on Saprissa in a huge match in Champions League play.
Need to prepare for Sporting Kansas City CCL match with Saprissa tonight? Listen to Steve Brisendine from MLS Soccer, our very own Grace Rogers and Thad Bell breakdown the match. We discuss Saprissa, Sporting KC's keeper situation, how strong of a lineup Vermes will play and predictions. Listen here, at Blog Talk radio or subscribe in iTunes and as always, let us know your feedback.

Check Out Soccer Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Shades of Blue on BlogTalkRadio

Sporting KC takes a break from MLS as they attempt to gain ground in the CONCACAF Champions League.
About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting have played the least amount of matches in the group, currently sitting last in the group with one point in one game. They were not able to break down Real Esteli's defense about a month ago in a game where they hoped they'd be able to take three points. While not devastating, it amplifies the importance of these two home games coming for Sporting KC against Saprissa tonight and Real Esteli next Tuesday. Not having league matches until next Friday gives Sporting KC the opportunity to put out a full lineup tonight, however, including the possible return of first-string keeper Eric Kronberg.
Saprissa
Saprissa sits at the top of the group and, with a win tonight, could make it all but confirmed that they win the group. It would make them only in need of a result in their last match at home against Sporting KC. They currently sit fourth in the Costa Rican Primera Division but have won four of their last five and scored multiple goals in all their wins. They have a high-powered offense that can really give Sporting KC headaches if Sporting's defense isn't playing up to par.
Who to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Eric Kronberg
Sporting KC have been without their starting keeper for the past couple of months when he fractured his fourth metacarpal in his hand. Recent reports from Steve Brisendine lead us to believe that Kronberg could return tonight against Saprissa. We have know idea if Kronberg will be rusty in this match or if he'll come out like there's been no break at all. Against Saprissa's strong offense, Kronberg needs to be the last line of defense and he might be called upon to make some big saves tonight.
Saprissa- Keilor Soto
Soto has been jumping around the Primera Division for the past couple of years, landing at Saprissa in the past offseason. The midfielder has posted the highest number of minutes already for Saprissa and has a goal to his tally in four games. Despite being listed as a midfielder, however, it looks like he's been playing a wingback role for Saprissa, not unsimilar to Seth Sinovic. If he can bring an extra attacker down the flank, it could really hurt Sporting KC's own attack.
Why They'll Win
Sporting Kansas City
While Saprissa is able to put up a number of goals against Primera Division competition, they also give up a fair number of goals. If Sporting is putting out a strong lineup tonight, they should be able to score goals against this leaky defense. Since both of these teams play a similar formation and tactics, it may come down to home field advantage and overall talent level, of which Sporting KC has the advantage in both categories tonight. Saprissa is a strong team, but Sporting should be able to pull this one out tonight.
Saprissa
If there's one thing Sporting KC struggles with, it's a strong attack down the flank. If Saprissa uses their wingbacks sufficiently, they could give Seth Sinovic and Igor Juliao fits. If Saprissa can absorb the Sporting attack and effectively deploy their wingbacks on the counter, they may be able to steal a couple of goals tonight. It's a tall task for the visitors but, as we know in Champions League (insert anything can happen cliche here).
Predictions
Lineups
Sporting Kansas City: Kronberg; Juliao, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Claros, Nagamura, Feilhaber; Saad, Dwyer, Zusi.
Saprissa: Carvajal; Smith, Rafael Morales, Machado, Soto; Russell, Bustos, Guzman; Arauz, Ramirez, Saucedo.
Scoreline
Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Saprissa

Steve, Grace and Thad preview Sporting KC's match with Saprissa
Need to prepare for Sporting Kansas City CCL match with Saprissa tonight? Listen to Steve Brisendine from MLS Soccer, our very own Grace Rogers and Thad Bell breakdown the match. We discuss Saprissa, Sporting KC's keeper situation, how strong of a lineup Vermes will play and predictions. Listen here, at Blog Talk radio or subscribe in iTunes and as always, let us know your feedback.

Check Out Soccer Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Shades of Blue on BlogTalkRadio