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Tonight’s Pitch Pit: Sporting Kansas City’s Remi Walter, guardian against the LA Galaxy

The Galaxy are taking shape under Manager Greg Vanney.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night at precisely 7:08p.m. CT, a newborn Sporting Kansas City will face a resurgent LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. Sporting Kansas City is nine points behind the eighth-place hosts. Only seven teams make the playoffs. Both need points.

Fourteen teams in MLS will be pissed they didn’t make the playoffs. And 14 teams will dream of MLS Cup glory. Fair enough. The situation keeps the league growing and keeps clubs motivated. And it makes for a fun, competitive season. I shake my head every time someone says that early season points don’t matter. I bet Sporting wish they had that part of the season back.

We all know Kansas City is currently under the viral spell of midfielder Erik Thommy and striker Willy Agada. The Galaxy, who Sporting took to the woodshed (on the scoreboard at least) at home August 6 in a 4-2 victory, are a talented team that is taking shape under Greg Vanney, mixing young attacking players with cagey and sagey veterans. Their latest additions of Riqui Puig and Gaston Brugman, especially Puig, have elevated the side. Now, the talents and drive of youngsters and veterans are coming to new light. Attacking midfielder Victor Vazquez is one of those veterans.

So, giddy up… “Dance off, bro.” – Sporting’s defensive midfielder Remi Walter v Victor Vazquez.

Vitals

Vitals Ht Wt Age MLS Seas Base Salary
Vitals Ht Wt Age MLS Seas Base Salary
Remi Walter 5'9" 161 27 2nd 800,000
Victor Vazquez 5'11" 172 35 4th 440,000

Wheres and What They Gots

Sporting is playing well of late – three wins in four – so Manager Peter Vermes will not likely be changing the starting lineup anytime soon. Thus, Walter is Sporting’s #6 of the moment. More so, Walter is the Horace Grant, the Dave Semenko, the Matt Light, of Sporting Kansas City: solid to the core, an occasional goal scorer/playmaker, and the supporting player for the more productive and the more flashy.

Vazquez, who may not start, balances out the Galaxy attack by being the everyman. The Barcelona-born attacker plays like a second forward under Javier Hernandez. Yet, he floats out to the flanks (mostly the right) and plays that final pass or the pass before the final pass. If he doesn’t start, Vazquez could be a difference making sub in the 2nd half.

Telling Stats

Stats Int Duel % KP Pass% xG G g+
Stats Int Duel % KP Pass% xG G g+
Remi Walter 24 53 27 89.3 0.95 3 -2.48
Victor Vazquez 8 78.8 25 89.4 1.19 2 0.56

Emphasizing the dual nature of a #6 and his solid contributions are Walter’s key pass and tackle numbers. The Frenchman is 2nd in key passes and 3rd in the side in tackles. Not content with just those numbers, Walter is 1st in pass percentage and tied for 3rd in interceptions.

Vazquez is up near the top for the Galaxy in similar categories despite his only 930 minutes. He is tied for 2nd in key passes and leads the Galaxians in pass percentage.

Latelies

How does a 94.1 pass percentage sound? Pretty darn good. That was Walter v Portland Timbers in that 4-1 win August 21st. Against LA Galaxy August 6th… 96.4 with only one turnover (none v Portland).

Vazquez may be an enemy this day, but he was a definite ally on August 19 v Seattle Sounders in helping limit the Sounders to one point in a 3-3 draw. The former 2014-2015 Belgian Footballer of the Year with Club Brugge scored a goal, contributed one key pass, and passed at a 92.5% success rate against the Rave Green.

Ink Links

(unsung heroes don’t get much ink… that is why they are, uh, unsung)

But Remi scored another!! (currently 4th in goals for SKC)

Sporting KC midfielder Remi Walter, wife announce pregnancy (fox4kc.com)

LA Galaxy re-sign midfielder Victor Vázquez | LA Galaxy

Tactics

Walter will have to coordinate with his left #8 midfielder (probably Thommy) and his left back (Logan Ndenbe?) to limit Vazquez’s space and time on the ball as Vazquez floats looking for seams. Left center back Andreu Fontas is particularly good at stepping up to intercept in passing lanes, a skill that will come in handy for Sporting. Yet, they will not be able to starve Vazquez of service unless Sporting dominates the ball (The Galaxy have done so dramatically in their last two home matches). Immediate pressure will make it difficult for Vazquez to raise his head. However, it could be physicality that will throw off Vazquez the most.

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