Sporting KC play the Colorado Rapids in midweek action tonight at Children's Mercy park for their 20th Anniversary game. I got with John Rosch from our fellow SB Nation blog, Burgundy Wave, to discuss the matchup.
We ask them...
1) In the past year the Rapids have been through a lot. The fans organized a boycott or sorts, your blog actually changed its name to the Beige Wave and there was also that story simply titled, "F*** the Rapids". Has the front office changed any minds? How do you feel about the direction the team is headed?
John Rosch: Within the supporters of the Rapids, feelings are mixed. Some are extremely supportive of the moves that have been made and feel that the team is finally on the right path after the Front Office dismantled a promising young team in 2013. However, there are those that are very skeptical and wonder if hanging your season on two older players who appear to be on the decline.
The real issue for supporters isn't so much the players that have been brought in to play, it's the coaching from the sidelines. Pablo Mastroeni has not shown much growth in his three years and the team is struggling because of this. For example: the Rapids are in a stretch of 3 games in a week and he made just one substitution in the loss to Real Salt Lake. That smells of poor coaching.
2) In the first five matches of the season with a record of 2-2-1, Colorado has had four matches finish 1-0 and the other was 1-1. Three goals scored, three goals conceded. Is this an indicator of 'bunkering' style of play, or is this just a solid defensive side that is struggling to score goals?
JR: "Defense wins championships" and that is the Rapids motto. They will regularly start 7 and 8 defensive players in a match on the road and rarely go for it at home. Parking the bus is the current Rapids style and it makes it very difficult to watch. Interestingly enough, the match that they looked the best in was the 1-0 loss to San Jose. They were able to get forward and put pressure on the San Jose net and used their fullbacks in the attack. It was the type of soccer we have been promised, but that promised is mostly unfulfilled at this point.
3) Rapids are actually sitting in a playoff spot at this early stage of the season. Will they be a playoff team this season?
JR: No. I think they are in playoff position right now because Seattle, Vancouver and Portland are all struggling and once those teams get going, the Rapids should drop in the table. The defense in Commerce City is strong enough to make some noise, but they just can't score enough goals and in MLS, you need to score to win games.
Burgundy Wave Lineup and Score Predictions
Lineup: Zac MacMath, Marc Burch, Axel Sjoberg, Bobby Burling, Eric Miller, Sam Cronin, Micheal Azira, Shkelzen Gashi, Dillon Powers, Marco Pappa, Luis Solignac
Sporting Kansas City 1:0 Colorado Rapids
They ask us...
1) Sporting is top of the table in MLS on 12 points but they are not scoring a ton. What is going right for them this season?
Cody Bradley: Well a short answer for you could simply be Tim Melia. Sporting KC had no business getting 3 points last week, but Melia was out of this world in goal. He has been great this season and the defense has a whole has been great. They've only conceded three goals which is the best in MLS (tied with the Rapids of course). Every spot involved has had a good start to the season. All four CBs have been called upon and they have all done well. Newcomer Nuno Coelho did not miss a beat in his transition he has been a standout so far. Amadou Dia is more confident and experienced in his second season at left back; and a healthy Chance Myers has looked like his old self on the right. Then of course Soni Mustivar in that holding midfield spot is so important to the defense as well.
However both Myers and Mustivar are injured and not available this match. Lawrence Olum started last week for Mustivar and played really well. We will probably be seeing Saad Abdul Salaam start at RB for Myers. He is still fairly raw but has good speed, good height and a lot of potential in his sophomore season.
When it comes to not scoring a ton; a couple injuries have had an influence on that. Brad Davis has yet to really play that much on the wing so Connor Hallisey has been filling in. Also Benny Feilhaber missed the first three matches and so much of the offense comes from his creativity. But so far they've got 7 goals and with a stingy defense, that has been enough. There are several weapons we haven't really seen yet and I think more goals are going to come.
2) 2015 ended in cruel fashion for SKC in Portland. How much is the loss to the Timbers fueling the team in 2016
CB: It was truly one of the craziest things I have ever seen. A penalty kick that would have won it bounce off the inside of one post, then it shot across the goal line and bounced off the other post in the wrong direction. We watched a statistical anomaly. Many will tell you that PKs themselves are tossups, it is just crazy when it gets to keepers taking them. So yes it without a doubt left a bad taste in the mouths of the players. They would tell you what made it the most difficult is that they believed if they could survive that tough wildcard in Portland, that they could bring a game back to KC and really make a run at the Cup. The lineup is mostly the same with a few key additions, so they remember it all very well.
3) Peter Vermes seems to be a stable, well respected manager with great tactical acumen. Is he a future USMNT manager and why or why not?
CB: I believe that he would be a great choice! So much of what you want in a candidate for the job, PV has got. He is a proven winner. His eye for talent is honestly incredible. His players trust him and he gets the most out of them. They buy into his system. His teams are gritty with "never say die" attitudes. They are disciplined and solid defensively. Also.... he's American. And a former USMNT player at that!
But do I do think he will be the USMNT manager? No. Because I will cry, scream, hold my breath, throw a fit and simply not let him leave Sporting KC.
The Blue Testament Lineup and Score Predictions
(4-3-3) Tim Melia, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Nuno Coelho, Ike Opara, Amadou Dia, Lawrence Olum, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson
Sporting Kansas City 2 - 2 Colorado Rapids