They ask us...
1. FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City have battled twice so far this year, one victory for Dallas 3-1 and one defeat 0-4. What did Peter Vermes do differently in that second game to achieve such a turnaround? I can't believe it was all homefield advantage.
The first game was the 2nd match of the year for Sporting KC. There were key injuries still, new players all over the field (be it new to the team, league, and/or professional sports all together). The Luis Marin experiment was still going on in between the posts, plus Nemeth was new to the league, De Jong new to the league, heck even Espinoza needed a few games to get back used to MLS.
Other than so many new players finally learning the league and the system, there are two differences in the lineup. Tim Melia and Soni Mustivar. Melia was an MLS pool goal keeper last year and was really just given a start because Luis Marin was struggling so much (and didn't speak english). Nobody ever imagined he would be this good. Every game he surprises me still. Here is more on his story. Mustivar was brought in (along with Servando Carrasco) to TRY and fill the void that Uri Rosell left in the ever important holding mid position. Carrasco was given the chance first as he knew the flow of the league, but did not play well at all. Soni didn't come in and take it over right away, but had settled in by his third match. Nobody will replace Uri of course, but Soni has played valiantly and solidified his starting spot. The talent is there in the rest of the midfield and up front, but those two coming in and locking things down in defense is a big reason Sporting KC have been climbing the table.
2. After earning status as USMNT regulars, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi have been hit or miss in camps since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Do you think this is on the individual players or Jurgen Klinsmann's whim? Can you tell us more about their status?
The times that Zusi has not been playing for the national team, it was about his fitness. He has had a few nagging injuries the last couple years, but is fully healthy and been looking great. It's good to see him get the call although we would like him here KC.
Besler is a different story. Looking at the some of the defenders selected, it is a little confusing as to how he could have been left off. One thought among us here at TBT, is that perhaps Jurgen is giving some other guys a chance to see what they have. When the group stages are done and the competition increases, it is possible Besler could then see the call up for the knockout rounds. I suppose there is another theory that could be mentioned coming from harsh critics of Jurgen. When the comments about the MLS players' fitness in January camp, Vermes and Besler responded and were really the only vocal ones about it from what I could see. But Besler's quotes were straightforward and not disrepectful. Here was his quote, "My goal is to be in my peak fitness on March 1," Besler said. "That’s when my season starts. It goes from March to December. So on Jan. 15, we devised an offseason plan for me to hit my peak fitness on March 1, and I think that’s what most of the guys did. If the expectation is different, that’s something that needs to be discussed so we know going into a camp where we need to be."
So some may tell you that it is Jurgen's ego that caused the hometown hero is call up to the national team. But I doubt this is the case. That being said, him missing the call up is indeed confusing. SKC fans will however, gladly take the snub.
3. With no league game this weekend, do we expect to see a full strength SKC roster tonight? Which new or developing players should FC Dallas fans watch for that may get a chance at some action?
Sporting seem to be taking this tournament quite seriously, but the lack of a weekend game definitely ensures a quality lineup tonight. Due to national team call ups, KC will be without Graham Zusi and Marcel De Jong, but at full strength other than those two. The last two seasons for this squad have been insane with injuries and call ups, so we really haven't seen the true full strength squad in some time. Therefore, losing those two guys shouldn't be much of an issue. Fans were worried about losing Besler, Zusi, Espinoza, De Jong, Mustivar, and maybe even Feilhaber the way he had been playing.
Amadou Dia will fill in for De Jong. He is a rookie that has looked very good in his 7 starts this year as an outside back. Another rookie who has seen good minutes thus far, Connor Hallisey, is likely going to start for Zusi on the right wing. Hallisey has also impressed and even has a slick back heel assist to Zusi under his belt. Vermes has thrown these guys into the fire (didn't necessarily have much of a choice) and shown confidence in them. They've stepped up to the challenge and now the both of them should see a run of several starts in a row. We will see what they are really made of.
Tim Melia, Amadou Dia, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Chance Myers, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Krisztian Nemeth, Dom Dwyer, Connor Hallisey
Sporting Kansas City 2 - 1 FC Dallas