Let's just get this out of the way here, I am a longtime reader of The Blue Testament but this is my first FanPost so feel free to offer any feedback on content or form in the comments. Now with the throat clearing aside here are my observations from a rainy Wednesday night at Children's Mercy Park where Sporting Kansas City defeated the LA Galaxy 2-0.
1. Isi is the defender we needed
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin is a physical beast, if you don't believe me go back and watch the game and look for these two things:
1) When everyone else is running as fast as they can to track back, look at Isi with his long legs. He looks like he is jogging meaning he has more recovery speed that he can unleash when it is needed.
2) Watch the corners taken by LAG, a common theme is either Isi winning the header or being the first to the second ball.
The above are defensive abilities that are sorely needed on a team that lacks height, pace, and is often caught ball watching on second balls in the box.
2. We looked better without Mauri
The midfield looked considerably more effective in possession without Mauri in the lineup. Perhaps a more fair statement though is that we looked a lot better with Espinoza and Illie in midfield. Walter also seemed in sync with those two in a way he was not with Mauri and the off the ball movement was smart and continuously found pockets of space in between the lines of LA. All that said I still believe Mauri has the potential to be effective for us as he did just arrive this summer and it is not unusual for mid-season transfers to struggle.
3. JFR is in beast mode
This is the most obvious take, but JFR is feeling it! It is stunning how he can continuously line people up and waste them on the dribble, but that has always been a part of his game. The difference right now is his finishing, he has always been good but right now his conversion rate is simply unreal. If he continues this clip through playoffs he feels like a team captain who could put the team on his back and drag SKC kickin' and screamin' to the MLS Cup.
4. Khiry is confusing
A common saying heard around soccer circles in the US is something like "Well if our best athletes played soccer instead of [insert sport here] then we could win a World Cup!" I think Khiry is an example of one of our best athletes playing soccer. He is energetic, tall, strong.... and just okay at soccer (to the extent that any professional athlete is "just okay" at any sport). He is equal parts thrilling to watch as he runs behind the backline and infuriating as he lacks the technical skills to get his shot off or beat a defender. Ultimately, I like him as a backup but primarily at RW or CF because he looks lost at LW. Unfortunately, going into this season with Salloi as our only natural LW we just do not have enough depth to do better than him right now.
5. Peter Vermes is ruining watching SKC for me
Peter Vermes is an incredible coach.... but his lack of subs is infuriating and leaves me feeling bitter and cynical at the end of games. It feels like he either wants his team to get injuries or does not want there to ever be a new generation of players. Using 2 of 5 subs when you are up 2-0 is crazy, bordering on negligent because:
1) Playoffs are coming up and starting XI players are looking clearly gassed.
2) You will need your subs to be ready to come in and change the game which they can only do with 1st team minutes.
6. A tactical concession
It is my belief that teams are more than happy to concede the wings to SKC because of the relative inability to create danger from crosses or corners. While this is not an unusual tactic in soccer it seems particularly effective against SKC who has scored one goal directly from a corner all year (according to Stu Holden on the broadcast). My gut tells me we have conceded quite a few more from post corner breakaways, which leaves me wondering if we might be better off just giving the ball back for a goal kick.
It was an amazing game and we looked incredible. Granted LAG are bad but it was a fun game and SKC looked unplayable. Please drop me a comment on my first post and let me know how I can improve.