Sporting KC travel to Dick's Sporting Goods Park for a Western Conference match on Saturday night with the last place Colorado Rapids. I got with John Rosch over at the Rapids' SB Nation Blog, Burgundy Wave, to talk about the troubles with their fan base and what we can expect from the match.
1) The Blue Testament: I understand there are many disgruntled fans of the Rapids right now. What exactly is this KSEout Movement, and does it have the right idea and enough steam to any changes?
John Rosch: Well, there are a great number of upset fans right now and it all started from a fan forum that the Rapids front office held that went terribly wrong for the team. The Rapids came across as defensive and seemed to make excuses for the poor play rather than looking in the mirror that they were the ones that have caused this problem. It was an embarrassment of epic proportions for the organization.
As for the KSEOut Movement--this was born out of this fan forum earlier in August. Basically, they want to see a new owner, front office and manager. I think they are along the right track in some cases, but will it get any real traction? I don't know. KSE has poured a great deal of money into the club over the past couple of years and while performances have been poor and the fan forum was bad, it is not the fault of Kroenke Sports Entertainment (the owners of the Rapids). There have been some questionable personnel decisions and the Rapids have thrown their lot in with a coach who has very little experience and it has shown. But to blame the ownership is short-sided.
2) TBT: The Rapids have been pretty good away from home this year with an even Road Goal Differential, but are actually -3 and with a losing record at home. What has been the problem getting the results at Dicks Sporting Goods Park?
JR: For whatever reason, the Rapids seem to play tight and do not enjoy their football at home. They should have one of the strongest home field advantages in soccer (running for 90 minutes at 5,280 feet is not easy) but for whatever reason they tense up and play incredibly defensive. They are letting the road teams dictate play and tend to come out with lineups at home that geared more towards parking the bus then winning soccer. It's tough to say it is this or that, but the Rapids need to learn to win at home again.
3) TBT: After defeating Houston on Wednesday the Rapids have now won 2 games in a row. Although they are still in last place with several teams above them, they are only 5 points out of the playoffs. Has Mastroeni's squad turned a corner? Are they going to make a run and sneak into the playoffs?
JR: The Rapids have no chance at making the playoffs regardless of the two game winning streak. It certainly feels good to win two in a row, but they were lucky to get a win in Chicago where they played defense for 90 minutes and the game against Houston this week was some of the ugliest football you will ever see. I get that people are excited about this, but the reality is that they are not good enough to compete with the very good teams in the West and a playoff berth is a road too far.
Lineup and Score Predictions
Lineup: Clint Irwin, Maynor Figueroa, Sean St. Ledger, Bobby Burling, Drew Moor, Marcelo Sarvas, Sam Cronin, Dillon Serna, Dillon Powers, Gabriel Torres, Kevin Doyle
Predictions: Rapids 1:3 Sporting. Unfortunately for the Burgundy Boys they are going to be catching a pissed off Sporting team who will see this as a winnable game with a ton of supporters making the trip from KC.
1) Burgundy Wave: Sporting Kansas City has been the a team that many have pipped to win MLS Cup this year. But after the destruction at home against San Jose and losing a lead to Columbus, things are not looking as rosy right now. What is going on at Sporting Park?
Cody Bradley: It was definitely a rough week for SKC. They were in the middle of 5 games in 15 days, key players were injured or suspended, guys playing in new spots, it was a bit of a clusterf***. A loss to San Jose wouldn't have been surprising after the incredibly emotional comeback win over Vancouver, but the scoreline was unheard of for this team at home. Then in Columbus it was a very wacky lineup that actually was almost able to pull out a result. Sporting was without Feilhaber, Espinoza, and Mustivar (The three starting midfielders) so I am not surprised the defense was put under so much pressure. They've now had a week off to recuperate and put those two rough games behind them. Still with several games in hand, the Supporters' Shield is not unreachable.
2) BW: Benny Feilhaber is having an MVP season and truly seems to be the engine that makes SKC go. What makes him special and more importantly, what does he have to do to get another look with the USMNT?
CB: Benny is everything to this team right now. There are so many things that make him a special player! It is his vision and his audacity that allow him to create big chances with one pass. It's the respect he gets from opponents that allows more space for his teammates. Feilhaber has always had the technical ability. That is what got him overseas and time with the national team. But for me, what has really led to him now playing the best soccer of his career, is his fitness level and work rate. When he first came to play for Vermes, he was struggling to get real time on the field. To work in PV's 4-3-3 Benny had to become "Sporting Fit" and become a box to box player. He couldn't sit up field and wait to create chances. He has become a ferocious player who tracks back and goes for every roll of the ball and every tackle.
As for him and Jurgen, it would appear that there is just absolutely nothing the guy can do. Benny has said Jurgen told him things to work on and to become consistent with... things Benny feels he has proven already. How Klinsmann can see Feilhaber tear apart defenses, hit scorchers from outside the box, and not want to have that on his team is beyond me. I suppose it is possible we could all be blown away and Benny could get the call for the September friendlies that are coming up. It would be great for him, it would be the right call, but not something Sporting KC fans would really rejoice about. We spend a lot of time politicking that he is deserved, but he is the MVP of this team and without him there is a huge void.
3) BW: Tim Melia is quietly having a good year for SKC. Why is he not getting more press for his play?
CB: Melia has been fantastic and a large reason Sporting are still in the hunt for all three trophies. He has without a doubt saved several points for this team between the sticks. His rise from MLS Pool Keeper to the bench in KC, and then to not only starting but playing so well, is something that has been covered a lot here in KC. To the point that I am positive Melia was tired of hearing about how unlikely his success was. The club had brought in Luis Marin from Chile in the off season and he was hoping to become the next great KC keeper in the company of Meola and Nielsen. He struggled with the language barrier with his backline he was benched and eventually left the team for family reasons. So behind him, and with the bright prospect of Jon Kempin, it was possible Melia was barely going to see any action at all this season. But when his chance came he took it and didn't look back.
It has been a great season for him, but it should be noted he has come back down to earth a little bit. For a while it looked like he couldn't be scored on, that has obviously changed considering all the goals SKC have given up the last three matches. Most of the troubles were with the defense (which struggles without the normal midfield), but Melia hasn't been the superhero he was looking like his first several games. He is still making big saves, works well with the back line, and plays with confidence. It'll be interesting to see what the club does in the off season at keeper.
(4-3-3) Sinovic, Besler, Ellis, Myers, Feilhaber, Nagamura, Quintilla, Nemeth, Dwyer, Zusi
Going with a bit of a wildcard lineup! It is unheard of for Peter to put a new player in the starting lineup so fast, but Quintilla was right in there all week at practice. This moves Benny back to that holding mid slot where played a few games last season.
Sporting KC 3 - 1 Colorado Rapids