Sporting KC will try to end a three game losing streak on Wednesday in another tough road match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. These teams met back in March at Children's Mercy Park and KC got the 2-1 win from a Dom Dwyer brace. I got with Bartosz Wysocki from our fellow SB Nation blog, Eighty Six Forever, to discuss the matchup.
We ask them…
1) What have you taken away from the start of the season? The Whitecaps are in 7th place in the west at the moment and have been a hard team to peg. Are they closer to being the team that lost to DC United 4-0.. or closer to being the team that beat FC Dallas 3-0 last week?
Bartosz Wysocki: In our victory over FC Dallas we saw a bit of the Whitecaps that we were used to last season: quick counter attacks, solid defense, and a super human Ousted in net. On the whole though, I'd unfortunately have to say that we're still probably a bit closer to that nightmare in DC than we are to last Saturday's victory. We've had quite a few games this year where we had no sting going forward, and even in our victories earlier in the season we looked shaky.
That being said, last week shows that Vancouver isn't a total lost cause. We were never going to beat teams with Barcelona like tiki taka passing, but with quick plays up front to our speedy wingers. We've proven it can be done once; we'll find out soon if it's something we can continue doing.
2) Octavio Rivero leads the 'Caps in Shots and Shots on Goal this, but he has yet to find the back of the net or even assist a goal. What do you think about his play this season? Is he really slumping or has he just been unlucky thus far?
BW: If you only watched Riveiro once, you might think "Ah, too bad he didn't score. He'll probably get one next game." The problem is that we have been saying that for half a year now, and nothing has changed. At this point it has to be considered a slump, there's no two ways about it. When I was watching the Dallas game, whenever Octavio had the ball I wasn't expecting him to do anything useful with it, and when something good happened it would feel like it was the exception rather than the rule.
A big part of being a striker is having the confidence to score, and it appears that Octavio has none of that right now. That being said, if he can bag a few soon, it might turn his confidence and his season around.
3) Sporting KC took advantage of a few poor giveaways in the Vancouver defense last time around, have any changes been made to the roster since we last met? Pedro Morales is listed on the injury report as probable... will be starting today?
Last time we played, a big part of the game was the red card that Smith got in the first half. It's safe to say that Smith won't be starting this one, and Canadian Fraser Aird will be slotted in the right back position. On the status of Morales, though he is listed as probable, I would bet on him not starting. He has a history of injures, and I suspect that Carl Robinson will have that in mind when putting together his roster.
Eight Six Forever Lineup and Score Predictions:
Ousted; Harvey, Waston, Parker, Aird; Laba, Jacobsen; Manneh, Mezquida, Techera; Riveiro
Predicted Score: Whitecaps 1-1 SKC
They ask us...
1) After a hot start, Sporting has lost four of their last five. What's gone south during that span?
Cody Bradley: I am going to be a bad pundit here and fail to give you a big problem and claim I have the key to turning it around. Every game has been something different, but the one common theme I suppose has to be finishing issues. It's not a couple players, everyone has been missing. Each loss was by one goal and Sporting KC had countless chances in each of them to get a result.
Two rusty players made two terrible mistakes that led to two goals and the loss against RSL. Vermes tried to rest players against Colorado and it back fired. The 2-1 loss in Dallas was against the Supporter's Shield leaders. On Sunday, referee Jair Marrufo happened, as well as a blatant missed penalty call. Everything has been so marginal.
A fair amount of fans are starting to panic, but SKC will be fine. They have been in every single game and had chances to win. There is no reason to believe they wouldn't beat those teams the next time they play.
2) This is the second time SKC and the Caps are dueling it out this season; the first time ended up with Sporting ending up on top 2-1. Do you expect Coach Vermes to enter this game with the same mentality, squad, and formation as last time, or will he change his recipe?
CB: As far as the lineup goes, Vancouver will see Benny Feilhaber this time around and Brad Davis will play more than 13 minutes as well. KC will be missing one of the most important players on the roster in Soni Mustivar, and Lawrence Olum will most likely fill in.
Although players are missing, I'll be very surprised to see Vermes not come out with his trusty 4-3-3 formation. He did (astonishingly) play with two strikers for a brief period one match this season, but it is known that he doesn't like to stray away from his system. It is known. However I would actually really like to see them try it!
The mentality may be noticeably different. At home they like to try put on a show (like the beautiful team goal that secured the win the first game) while they tend to sit further back and pick their chances to push forward at on the road. But I expect the mentality this game will be do to whatever end the losing streak and grind out at least a point. So.... this could get scrappy!
3) Dom Dwyer has been your key cog up front, with four of your nine goals. Do you expect the SKC attack to revolve around him for the rest of the season, or do you hope for other forwards to step up?
CB: I do expect the scoring to revolve around Dwyer. He will get going and scored a bunch of goals, but he has also been a better distributor this season. He is going to assist a fair amount of goals to Davis/Zusi/Feilhaber as well. The Dwyer & Davis linkup has shown flashes of a dangerous partnership, plus Graham Zusi is playing much more aggressive and hungry to score as well. Feilhaber is going to get his goals and Espinoza will probably get a few when it's all said and done.
Dom set his sights on 30 goals this year. That may be lofty, but at his best, Dom is borderline unstoppable for the full 90 minutes. The offense is always going to revolve around his hold up play, his relentless hustle, his passing, and of course the cannon that is his left boot.
The Blue Testament Lineup and Score Predictions
(4-3-3) Tim Melia, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Amadou Dia, Lawrence Olum, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Brad Davis
Sporting KC 2 - 2 Vancouver Whitecaps