We ask them...
1. Two of the top teams in the Western Conference facing off this weekend, but the teams are rather unfamiliar with eachother and this will be only the 6th all time match between them. What does it take to beat this tough Whitecaps side in front of their home crowd?
It's strange to call the Whitecaps one of the top teams in MLS, even though their point total would argue they are. The 'Caps are the definition of inconsistency, and I'm not yet convinced this club is truly in the upper echelon of the MLS. Look no further than their recent win streak; They were magnificent in a victory against the LA Galaxy, then managed sloppy but respectable road wins over the Red Bulls and the Revolution. It was snapped when they put forth a putrid performance against one of the worst teams in MLS, the Colorado Rapids. You really have no clue what to expect from week to week with the boys.
Specifically, if you're going to attack the soft underbelly of the Whitecaps, you have to focus on their Center Backs; While Kendall Waston is a stud, his rotation of partners have been less than stellar.
2. David Ousted made a good name for himself last year but is having an All Star season and established himself as perhaps the best keeper in MLS. With Sporting, when a player has a good run of form, Europe comes calling. Will the Whitecaps reward him with a new contract or is he destined to be shipped off elsewhere?
Hopefully Ousted will remain with the Whitecaps for a long time, but the Whitecaps may need to face the reality of the situation; Ousted is no doubt garnering recognition from other clubs with deeper pockets, and if they come calling, all Vancouver can do is try to negotiate the best price. Whitecaps fans should be desensitized to that scenario, as they already went through a nightmare transfer situation with former Golden Boot Winner Camilo a few seasons ago. If Ousted does start getting offers, it's not all doom and gloom for the Whitecaps. They should get a handsome return for the Great Dane, and they have the young Marco Carducci waiting in the wings. He's not ready now, but he's a great prospect.
3. Being in such a good position and with the prospect of free money coming by way of the new "Targeted Allocation Money", can we expect to see any big moves coming from Carl Robinson to bolster his lineup?
If the Whitecaps need to make any improvements, it's at the Center Back position (See question 1). It's something they should be improving, as Pa Modou Kah has been up and down, Diego Rodriguez has been injured, and the depth chart gets razor thin after that. Besides the Center Back position, I wouldn't expect any major changes, as the Whitecaps like to develop from within. I've heard complaints the Whitecaps need another goal scorer, but I think Carl Robinson would much rather play and develop his young guns than add another expensive salary to the payroll. Besides that, the Whitecaps should be able to compete with the players they have now, it's just some of them haven't been meeting expectations. If Captain Pedro Morales were to round into form, or if Darren Mattocks could ever realize his potential, the transfer window would be unnecessary.
Projection: A pumped up Whitecap team celebrate their first home match in a while with a 2-1 victory.
They ask us...
1) Are SKC a better team than sixth place? Where do you anticipate this club will be at the end of the season?
This team is far better than 6th place. The stat I have been looking at for the last week is the points per game. At 1.69, KC has the highest in all of MLS. Sporting have several games in hand on the leaders in the West and have done nothing but climb the ranks since a rough patch to open the season. With a bunch of new guys and injuries, it took several games for this team to find its footing.
Players like Nemeth and Espinoza had to get acclimated and the rookies filling in for injuries had to build some confidence. Luis Marin was benched for Tim Melia and Soni Mustivar took over the holding midfield spot. While there are still questions that need answered, this is a different team that can beat anyone in either league. Another attacking player is needed along with a true CB, but even without them KC should be right there at the top when the season comes to an end. Fans of this team are always going to have high expectations, but this year is Champion's League or bust.
2) Krisztian Nemeth has 7 goals this season. Is that a bloated stat, or is he performing for SKC? (As a fellow Hungarian, had to ask about him)
Nemo is just simply THAT good. The fun part is he is only getting better. He has a lethalness to him in the box that KC have needed for some time. Those 7 goals have come from his total of 7 shots on goal for the season. He can launch powerful shots from distance, but also dance around guys in tight spaces. It was clear from the get-go in preseason that he was going to a big player for the club this year and it has been a pleasure watching him. As Nemeth gets more and more confident he will only find more success. His chipped goal against Dallas in the Open Cup makes that very clear. He also gets better as his rapport up top with Dom Dwyer continues to build. By the end of the year he could very well be competing for the Golden Boot and be one of the best players in all of MLS.
3) SKC hasn't played in 11 days. Do you see that as a positive or a negative?
If anything, it is probably a negative. After scoring 6 goals against Dallas, the boys had to be chomping at the bit to play again. That being said, several guys had bumps and bruises and a few days off couldn't hurt them. Sinovic is still trying to come back from a concussion, it gave Chance Myers some more to time to get back to 90 minutes fit, and also Nagamura and Peterson are now available for this weekend.
So while it probably would have been advantageous to keep their hot hand rolling, Peter Vermes is not the kind of coach to let his team get lackadaisical. His guys will be raring to go and confident they can pull out a result.
(4-3-3) Tim Melia, Chance Myers, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Amadou Dia, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Krisztian Nemeth, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson
Sporting Kansas City 2 - 2 Vancouver Whitecaps