Well now that was a fun match. Soony Saad scored twice and Claudio Bieler contributed one of his own as Sporting Kansas City took down Toronto FC 3-0. The third goal was a thing of beauty as it exemplified the great passing and possession control that Sporting showed off during this match.
With a tough part of the schedule coming up, it's time to discuss the state of the team and it's progress going forward.
1) Soony Saad is what we've been looking for on the wing
Soony Saad was given a chance a few weeks ago and by goodness he took advantage of it. In the games in which Saad has started, the attack has looked really good with all three members in Kamara, Bieler and Saad clicking on the same level. Soony has really matured as a player since he was acquired by Sporting back in 2011 and has become the answer to the question of who Sporting should play on the wing. This allows Graham Zusi to play attacking midfield where he can arguably do the most damage. Hopefully Saad can keep his play up and keep vindicating the people who pushed for him to get regular playing time.
2) The midfield is interesting
Peter Vermes used an unorthodox midfield lineup tonight as he put both Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi in the midfield. It worked very well for this game, but it was also against a Toronto team who has had problems with the back line and their defense has not held well against high pressure offenses such as Sporting's. I'm not sure I want to risk playing such an attacking lineup against Real Salt Lake next week instead of having another holding midfielder but this is a combination I want to see play out more to see if they can continue the results they produced tonight.
3) Back atop the East once more
With the win Sporting Kansas City moved back on top of the Eastern Conference with a one point lead over Montreal and New York, though the Impact have two games in hand against Sporting and the Red Bulls. With 14 matches to go in the season, Sporting has put themselves in a good position recently to earn a good playoff spot as long as they continue to play at the level they are playing. The Supporters' Shield isn't out of the question either as they sit four points back on Real Salt Lake with equal matches. A win in Salt Lake City next week would put them in a great position to make a run for the Shield down the stretch.
4) Benny is improving (Not a moment too soon)
Benny Feilhaber played another good match as he continues to adjust to the Sporting way of playing high-pressure soccer. I, like many, were frustrated at his lack of overall chemistry in the midfield in the beginning of the season but he has really improved his fitness level and it looks like he is clicking well with the rest of the team, at least in the past two games. A Benny Feilhaber in good form is a dangerous weapon for Sporting to use because it gives them a good playmaker who can rifle off a shot every now and again. The only problem is it forces Vermes to make some tough decisions regarding the lineup, but that's a good problem to have.
5) In Vermes we trust
I, like many, fell once again into the May trap that Sporting likes to lay for us every year. I fell into the trap of thinking that something was seriously wrong with the team and that something drastic needed to happen, such as a change in coaching or bringing in someone entirely different in the transfer window. I should've known that they would emerge from the bad months to rally back and would stand atop the Eastern Conference. There's still a lot of matches, some very tough, to go but I feel confident this team can make some noise and maybe, finally, reach that ultimate goal: Beating Houston in the playoffs.