Sporting Kansas City are currently 5th (out of 9 teams) in the Eastern Conference division of America’s MLS, but they’re on the rise with 3 wins and 2 draws (or ‘ties’ as the Americans call them) in the last five games. In fact they’re currently on an unbeaten 11 game run in the league. They did however lose their last game 2-0 away to the Richmond Kickers in the US Open Cup.
Although the English Premier League might lay claim to a higher quality of football than the MLS, this will still be a tough pre-season test for the Toon. They’ll be up against a team in mid-season who are on a run of form and the climate they’ll be playing in is likely to be a fair bit warmer than they’re used to.
Indeed, Sporting Kansas City managed to turn over Manchester United when they visited for a pre-season game last summer and it was Sir Alex who recommended to Pardew that a game at Kansas would be good for pre-season preparation.
Mexican international Omar Bravo is the current top scorer for Kansas with 4 goals but Collin, Zusi, Sapong and Kamara each have 3 a piece, so it seems as if the scoring is shared around the team quite widely.
Alan Pardew had this to say ahead of the game:
“We’ve had a great couple of days in Kansas and the training has gone really well. It’s red hot out here but the lads have been looking after themselves, keeping hydrated, and we’re ready for our first game.
“All the lads and the coaching staff are delighted to be here, we’ve been treated really well and everyone here has made us feel very welcome. It’s an ideal environment for a pre-season camp and it should prove very beneficial to us all.
“It was actually Sir Alex Ferguson who recommended Kansas to us in terms of being good opposition to play and a club with first class training facilities. He was spot-on because the training pitches are immaculate and that’s crucially important to our preparation. I’m grateful to Sir Alex for his recommendation.
“I’ve been speaking to the Kansas staff and their manager. They’re really looking forward to playing us which should make for a great game, and they’re on a great run of form too – undefeated in their last eleven games in the MLS.
“Most of the lads will be involved on Wednesday night; it’s a game where I’ll be using the full squad where I can as the heat will obviously dictate that. Not having the three lads here (Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye and Nile Ranger) is a bit disappointing, especially Yohan with him just joining a few weeks ago. But it’s something we’ve overcome and we’re cracking on with things.“
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
I really haven’t got much of a clue about Sporting Kansas City, so all I’ve done here is to reproduce the list of players they used in their last league game:
Staring XI: Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Birahim Diop, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Omar Bravo, C.J. Sapong, Kei Kamara.
Subs: Eric Kronberg, Seth Sinovic, Teal Bunbury, Shavar Thomas, Luke Sassano, Milos Stojcev, Soony Saad.
As for Newcastle, we’re without the Joey Barton, Nile Ranger and Yohan Cabaye due to visa issues and injuries prior to the tour mean Danny Guthrie and Shane Ferguson are not in contention. So the players we have available are:
Keepers: Harper, Forster, Krul.
Defenders: Simpson, Coloccini, Saylor, Enrique, Tavernier. (Perch, Williamson?)
Midfielders: Marveaux, Jonas, Ben Arfa, Gosling, Abeid, Smith, Tiote, Vuckic, Raylor.
Strikers: Ba, Best, Lover, Shola.
I would imagine our ‘first choice’ starting XI from that would be something like:
Krul; Simpson, Saylor, Colo, Enrique; Marveaux, Jonas, Tiote, Gosling; Ben Arfa, Ba.
There is room for manoeuvre of course. Ben Arfa could play up front with Ba in a 4-4-2 or just behind him in a 4-4-1-1, but he could also play as part of three forward-playing midfielders with Jonas and Marveaux either side of him in a 4-2-3-1 setup.
Of course, Alan Pardew might like to experiment a bit, which is part of the reason for pre-season friendlies anyway, so we could see a completely different starting XI playing a totally different formation!
The match kicks off at 19:30 local time, which is 01:30 Thursday morning our time. I think there’ll be a few interweb feeds available for those keen to watch.
Not having a clue what to expect from this game, I’ll go for a 2-2 draw!