Newcastle United kicks off its Stateside Tour with its second preseason friendly against Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. The two sides have never met before, though Sporting KC (then branded the Kansas City Wizards) did host Manchester United a year ago and prevailed 2-1 despite being down a man for over half the game. Neither team is expected to field their entire Starting XI, as Newcastle are tuning up and Sporting Kansas City are in the middle of their season, but both will be fighting for pride.
A match preview follows the jump.
Sporting Kansas City5th place in MLS Eastern Conference, 23 points, 5-6-8
SBN Blog: The Daily Wiz
Newcastle United FC
Projected XI: Forster | Simpson, Coloccini (C), STaylor, Jose Enrique | Marveaux, Jonás, Ben Arfa, Gosling, Abeid | Ba
Other available players: Harper, Krul, Williamson, Perch, Tavernier, RTaylor, Smith, Tiote, Vuckic, Best, Lovenkrands, Shola
A glance at the MLS standings will tell you that Sporting KC is a middling team, but the truth is that they are slowly climbing up the table after an awful start. Following a five-game losing skid, SKC are now the proud owners of an 11-game unbeaten streak in league play, though they did recently fall to USL Professional League (third tier) side Richmond Kickers in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup. They have recently signed promising forward Soony Saad and brought in young Brazilian midfielder Jeferson on loan. Neither player has seen any game action with the squad, so it would be reasonable to assume that both could make their debuts in this friendly. Finally, it would be irresponsible to neglect to mention the beautiful new stadium that will host this event: LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, which officially opened just over a month ago and has been almost universally described as a "soccer cathedral."
Any preseason will bring with it questions about the Starting XI, but this particular one also brings with it speculation about a new formation as Alan Pardew tries to deal with an abundant midfield and still-depleted striker corps. Several players have hinted to the media that they believe they will receive the starting nod to start the US tour, most notably Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique Sanchez, and Fraser Forster. Heat has been a major storyline reported by many of the media members who are used to the climate of the North East, so Pardew is expected to be free with his substitutions.
Last week we had the story of one of Darlington's strikers being an NUFC season ticket holder, and though there were one or two SKC players who praised the virtues of Alan Shearer, there aren't any cool stories like that this time around. Instead, let's focus on how the Toon will be received by the North American fanbase. Something to watch and listen for (if you can, the game won't be televised in the US, which probably means not in the UK either) is how the crowd reacts to the squad. We'll report back to you on that front.
Again, friendlies aren't meant to be won, but when Manchester United found themselves on the wrong end of a result last summer, the English papers predictably labeled it as an embarrassment. On that note, it would be nice if nobody stormed the pitch.
Keys to Victory
Again, the key is to not get injured. Also, it would seem to behoove the Magpies to play more of a disciplined passing game in the heat.