I'm not usually one who enjoys eating my words, but I'll gladly eat them every time if it means Sporting Kansas City come away with a 3-0 victory.
Earlier this week I wrote a piece in which I brought up a potential problem for Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes regarding who he should start as the lone striker in the Sporting line up. My point being that both Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong prefer to play the same position, and that both players were most effective as the lone striker, meaning that one of them would have to start the match on the bench.
I wrote that Vermes had to start Sapong based off of the fact that Sapong has been in much better form than Bunbury. It also didn't hurt that C.J. has a non stop motor, and that he is willing to do all of the little things that don't necessarily show up in the box score. Basically I was insinuating that C.J. was the anti-Teal Bunbury. I questioned Teal's work ethic. I may have also questioned his first touch, his heart, and a bunch of other things that I'd rather not bring up at the moment.
Obviously I wrote that piece before Teal buried two goals to help Sporting Kansas City put the Houston Dynamo away in a game that had major playoff implications.
After yesterday's match, I stand corrected.
Yesterday we saw the Teal Bunbury that Sporting Kansas City fans fell in love with in the first place. The guy who shows the promise of one day being one of the best finishers in the game. He was confident. He played with a swagger. His first touch appears to be back, none more evident than on his first goal.
In the 9th minute of play Graham Zusi made an impressive pass that flew over the top of both Teal, and Dynamo defender Andre Hainault. Teal controlled the ball extremely well, despite the pressure from Hainault, and pushed the ball past Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall for the score.
Teal scored his second goal of the evening in the 73rd minute of action after receiving a very nice through ball from Julio Cesar. It left Bunbury racing towards Hall, essentially one on one. Teal easily put the ball in the back of the net.
Good to see you again, Teal Bunbury of 2010.
An extremely nice game from Bunbury, but I'm still not sure if it answers the ultimate question Vermes will have to answer when Sporting Kansas City faces Real Salt Lake this coming Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. Afterall, despite how impressive Teal's performance was, it was only a single match.
I'm still a believer that Sapong has been the overall better player this season. At the very least he's been more consistent of the two. But at the same time, I could see Vermes wanting to find out if Teal is possibly on a hot streak, and attempting to ride the season out with him if he in fact is back to being at the top of his form.
My best guess is that Teal will make the start on Saturday. With Kei Kamara back, I would imagine C.J. Sapong would move to the bench. Just one man's opinion though.
Finishing chances seems to still be a slight problem for Sporting Kansas City. Both Omar Bravo, and Seth Sinovic missed very good opportunities to score against Houston. Sinovic's miss was truly disappointing after Omar Bravo found him at the back post. Sinovic's shot went over the crossbar.
Other than the couple of missed chances, it's hard for me to find too much to complain about. This could very well have been Sporting Kansas City's most dominating performance, and for once the team showed a little bit of that killer instinct that every great team needs in order to succeed.
I've been a believer for a while now that the one thing that has been hurting Sporting Kansas City the most this season has been their inability to finish teams off at the end of games. We've seen it happen most recently against the Seattle Sounders (a 2-1 loss), and FC Dallas (3-2 loss). In both of those games, Sporting had a lead going into the later stages of the match, only to end up conceding at the end.
I started to question whether or not Sporting Kansas City had the 'killer instinct.' The ability to consistently put the opposition away when they have them against the ropes. The Seattle, and FC Dallas games did little to put my mind at ease.
On Saturday Sporting Kansas City was a different team. They dominated in all phases of the game from start to finish. They also showed that killer instinct during the 79th minute of play when Kei Kamara's pass found C.J. Sapong wide open on the left side of goal. Sapong put the shot away, giving Sporting Kansas City a 3-0 lead.
The victory against Houston propels Sporting Kansas City to the top of the Eastern Conference in a first place tie with the Columbus Crew. Both teams sit at 40 points a piece.
Let's hope Sporting Kansas City can continue their current level of play as they make their final push for the playoffs.
One down, six to go.