As if a match between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake needed anything to raise the intensity, both teams will be desperate for every last point in such a tight Western Conference. Brace yourselves, my friends.
Here are your Three Questions But Really Six.
We ask them...
The Blue Testament: Yura Movsisyan just earned a multi year deal after a successful loan spell. Was that an obvious choice for most RSL fans? Do you have any details about the deal (duration/money)?
Randal Serr: We know the deal was multi-year. In interviews, everyone talks about him being a face of the franchise for years to come, so we know he'll be here a while. As for money, we don't know how much it took to keep him or how much he'll be paid per year. What we do know is that he was transferred to Spartak Moscow, his previous club, for 7.5 euros and was making about 1.5 euros a year. So I can't imagine he's making too much less than that, but who knows? For me and most RSL fans, it absolutely was an obvious choice. While Movsisyan hasn't scored the amount of goals we expected, he is capable of scoring upwards of 20 goals a season, and I think he'll get there over the next couple of years. He was a huge contributor for the Armenian National Team in UEFA 2012 scoring four goals. So the guy can compete on the biggest stage and that's the kind of guy you want to keep around, a proven goal-scorer.
TBT: Head Coach Jeff Cassar is in a contract year. Do you think RSL should keep him around? Will they? Or does it depend on how this season finishes?
RS: This is a constant point of debate within RSL fandom. There is some irrational hatred out there as well as some justified dislike. But I think it is safe to say that most fans think he deserves another couple years if RSL makes the MLS Playoffs this year and especially if they advance in the tournament. He inherited a team that Kreis ran for years. They could have coached themselves. Then RSL had a disastrous 2015. Now he has them on a good trajectory again, but are capable of more than what we've seen. It's hard to get much of a rhythm if you change coaches too often as we see across MLS and other leagues generally.
TBT: This is always a fiery match-up, but Sunday will have extra bite as both teams are desperately fighting for their spot in the playoffs. Sporting KC is trailing RSL by two points right now. Can they hold them off? What are you predictions for the playoff seeds (if any) of both teams.
RS: I think RSL is at the point where they are now angry. They have under-performed for the past five games and they know it. All indications out of training this week are that there is very stiff competition for starting spots and that there have been some fiery moments. That tells me that they are focused and ready to come out and regain their momentum and confidence. Can RSL hold of Sporting KC? They definitely should at home. But MLS is unpredictable, so anything can happen on any given day. I predict that RSL will win this game and end up the fourth seed hosting an early game against Sporting KC or Seattle.
RSL Soapbox Prediction:
Starting XI: Rimando, Beltran, Glad, Olave, Phillips, Beckerman, Sunny, Morales, Plata, Movsisyan, Martinez
They ask us...
RSL Soapbox: How much is riding on this game for KC? RSL and its fans are treating this like one of the biggest games of the year.
Cody Bradley: Oh yes this match has to be viewed that way for Sporting as well. If they can pull out all three points somehow, Colorado getting a result against Portland would clinch KC's spot in the post season. And to be perfectly honest, that is a feat which a very large number of pessimistic fans didn't believe would happen. I believe they will get in, but that first match as the 6 seed would take a miracle for them to advance. For me, they need all 6 points from the final two games if they want to have a chance of doing anything in the playoffs. They are above the red line right now, but it will depend on which version of this Bipolar team that shows up against RSL if they will stay there.
RSB: If things play out the way they should, RSL will likely face Sporting KC in the first round of the MLS Playoffs. Is Real Salt Lake the biggest rival for Sporting KC at this point?
CB: We seem to have bones to pick with so many teams! Portland, Seattle, and Houston for sure. There is even a little extra bite to Orlando City match ups after being affiliates before they came to MLS. But yes for me, and I think most SKC fans, RSL is the number one rival. For instance I had questions for you that I had to cut because they were about the stupid, ugly faces of RSL players. haha But really, I do love the rivalry. All of the banter and especially the intense matches we see between the teams. If this rivalry has cooled off any since MLS Cup, a match with stakes this high will be throwing fuel on the fire.
RSB: Kansas City seemed to have trouble finding their footing for the first half of the year. What was going wrong and have they turned it around?
CB: I would so much love to tell you that is the story of this year. But I don't think I can. It seems there has been no rhyme or reason. When you think they have it figured out, they will then put on a terrible performance. It has felt like they struggled all year long. Sometimes they will make you forget how we ever scored any goals, ever. And how we ever stop anyone from scoring, ever. But there is a lot of talent on this team and when it is right, they can play with anybody in the league. Right now, there is really no reason to believe the ship has been righted and the good ol' Sporting is sure to come out on Sunday. Nobody would be surprised by a loss that's for sure. And that would really put them in a horrible spot.
The Blue Testament Prediction:
Starting XI: Tim Melia, Saad Abdul Salaam, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Jimmy Medranda, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson