The Armchair Analyst Talks Sporting KC

Jamie Squire

Matt Doyle from MLSsoccer.com gives his thoughts on the Roger Espinoza situation, Sporting in the playoffs, and who he thinks should have been Sporting KC's MVP in 2012.

Sporting Kansas City won't play their first playoff match until November 4th, meaning that we still have a week to go before the team starts what will hopefully be an extended playoff run.

I thought it might be a good time to ask Matt Doyle a few questions about Sporting KC.

Most of you probably know Matt as the "Armchair Analyst." Matt's done some great work on MLSsoccer.com, including this recent piece comparing the contrasting playing styles of San Jose and Sporting KC, and he was kind enough to give us his thoughts on a few different topics regarding Sporting Kansas City.

A big thank you to Matt for his time.

With all of the transfer rumors over the past couple of months, there has been a lot of talk in Kansas City about the future of midfielder Roger Espinoza. Most feel that he is more than likely going to Wigan once the season ends. It's also been said that the only way that Sporting KC can probably keep Espinoza is if they give him a designated player contract, which brings up the question of whether or not MLS would approve such a contract for a player like Espinoza. I'm sure MLS would prefer to give DP contracts to players that are marketable and that sell tickets, and Roger really isn't that kind of player to the rest of MLS outside of Kansas City. Do you think MLS would approve of a DP contract for Espinoza, and do you feel that it would be in Sporting KC's best interest to offer him DP type money?

Matt Doyle (MD): You're making assumptions that aren't based in fact. Several other Hondurans - Garcia in Houston and Bengtson in NE - are DPs, so why couldn't Espinoza be if KC really wanted it? Here's the current DP list.

How many of those guys move the needle?

Judging from his on field production, I'd say Espinoza is a borderline DP. I think with Oriol Rosell and Peterson Joseph already in the fold, it might be better cap management to let Roger walk.

Sporting Kansas City recently gave out their end of the year awards and Jimmy Nielsen and Graham Zusi were named co-MVPs for the 2012 season. There were definitely a number of candidates that one could make a case for, including Kei Kamara or Matt Besler. If you had a vote for Sporting Kansas City's MVP, who would you choose?

MD: That's a tough call, because good arguments can be made for all four of them. I'd put Nielsen 4th, because any good goalkeeper should have produced top numbers for a team as defensively sound as KC. Zusi will probably finish second in league MVP voting, but I have him third on this list.

That makes it a coin flip between Besler and Kamara. Besler's the key to the league's best defense, and is the league's best defender (this year), while Kamara is the guy you absolutely have to match physically to get a result vs. KC. Tough call, but since KC are a "defend from the front" team, I go with Kei.

Sporting KC appear to be one of the favorites to win the MLS Cup. What do you think the keys are going to be for Kansas City if they are going to make a deep run in the playoffs? Which team do you think takes home the Cup in 2012?

MD: Simply put: They need to finish the chances they create. If CJ plays with confidence in front of the net, I don't think anybody in the East will stop them.

No Cup prediction from me, by the way. I'm saving that for my own column.

Make sure you follow the Armchair Analyst on Twitter.

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