With only four games left in the MLS regular season I sat back today and reflected on Sporting KC's season. Although this season isn't over I couldn't help but think about how this season could've been different for SKC. Currently sitting in sixth place in the western conference, bowing out of the Open Cup in the round of sixteen, and completely flopping in the CONCACAF Champions League I couldn't help but think about the comments that were made prior to the beginning of the season. The main one was that this team would finally have some depth and might be able to make some good runs in all of these competitions, but man were we wrong. SKC had all of this "depth" at the beginning of the season but yet again injuries plagued the Sporting KC team all season long.
At the beginning of the season I was very excited by some of the signings that Peter Vermes had made. Although players like Nuno Coelho, Justin Mapp, and Ike Opara have pasts of being injury prone I had faith in Vermes' judgment considering what he had done with a player like Krisztian Nemeth last season (a player who prior to coming to SKC was known for not panning out because of injuries).
Fast forward seven and a half months and it is safe to say that the Justin Mapp deal has been a bust. Mapp has made a total of 6 appearances this season for a grand total of 43 minutes. At the beginning of the season I thought Mapp could offer a experienced, quick, and dynamic winger for Sporting KC (as well as depth), but so far all he's offered is a constant project for the trainers. This will be Mapp's second season where he has missed almost all of the season, and maybe after 14 seasons in MLS it's time to hang it up.
Frankly Brad Davis has been a disappointment as well. In the past five seasons Davis averaged 12.8 assists, but with just one assist this season many might say that father time is catching up with the "left footed David Beckham". I had thought Davis would be a great signing to serve balls into the area for Dwyer to finish, but this season he's looked more interested into taking on defenders rather than serving in crosses. He has had his fair share of injuries this season as well, leading Coach Vermes to place Connor Hallisey in the line up more than he had likely planned this season.
When he's been on the field Coelho has been a great signing, and it has been really heart warming to see a guy like Ike who has struggled so much with injuries finally get to play. Coelho does a great job of distributing the ball and making great decisions of when to tackle (something Aurelien Collin didn't do so well). Ike Opara was a guy that really needed to show up this season after missing both 2014 and 2015 to season ending injuries. Since Opara has missed most of the season the past two years he's felt like a new signing this year. He's done a great job of winning balls out of the air, and his speed has bailed SKC out quite a few times. While both have made more appearances in this season than they have in prior years, they both have missed games for smaller injuries and I'd like to see them on a more consistent basis.
Graham Zusi and Matt Besler are two guys that have also missed a good chunk of time this season. Between national team duty and their own nagging injuries, having two designated players miss a total of 26 games combined isn't exactly a recipe for success.
Now while I've very critical of these players and their absences from the line up, arguably causing the team to miss out on opportunities to win other hardware, there are no other distractions at this point. It's all hands on deck for MLS Cup. We all know how once you're in the playoffs it doesn't matter how your team did the regular season, it's about can you win and move forward. It seems to me (fingers crossed and knocking on wood) that SKC is getting healthy at just the right time and that in itself gives me a lot of hope for what is to come in October and hopefully November.