Like many women, my wife has specific television shows she watches. I could ask her right now and she could tell me the schedule she is going to watch. One of her favorite parts to an episode is the end and the next episodes preview. Well, we figured Utah sports fans wouldn’t mind knowing a little about their opponents. So, we have started an article series call What to Watch For. These articles will give you an idea of what to watch in the upcoming game. This week we feature RSL’s next opponent, Sporting Kansas City.
In this the initial article we are featuring Alex Englén from The Daily Wiz. Here is his feature article:
The first thing you should know about Sporting KC if you didn’t know already – or have been living under a rock for about the past month – is that they are the only undefeated team in MLS. After 5 games they have won 5 matches on the trot, a perfect and mostly unblemished 15 points from 15. In all honesty this is one of the best teams KC has ever produced, and the last time the Kansas City faithful saw such a powerful squad was in 2004 when the club were runners up in the MLS Cup and champions of the US Open Cup.
The only other team with 15 points (albeit from 6 games) is Real Salt Lake of course. And as they get set to come down to LIVESTRONG Sporting Park there are a few things you might want to know about possibly the hottest team in America right now.
Graham Zusi – Zusi has easily been Sporting KC’s MVP thus far into the campaign, he’s been extremely consistent with his performances and has five assists to his name. In Sporting KC’s attack-minded formation a guy like Graham is essential to have and has been the main reason SKC has been powerful on the offense. He plays in front of two other midfielders most of the time and while he usually comes back to take care of his defensive duties he has also been given a little more freedom from the coaching staff to basically play right behind the single striker at times (normally CJ Sapong) and therefore can help get the attacks going through switching the play from end to end and wing to wing.
Kei Kamara – As big of a factor as Kei Kamara was in the beginning part of the season for the club he has been even bigger for us now. He leads the league in both shots on goal and shots on target as well as leads Sporting KC with 3 goals and 2 game winning goals. His play on the right wing has been stellar and the way he can combine with the right fullback Chance Myers along with Graham Zusi to kick start the offense has been phenomenal.
Kamara is an individual player first and foremost, there’s no taking away from that – just look at the amount of shots the big Sierra Leonean international has taken for proof. However, it’s the stuff he does off the ball that usually helps the team the most in the long run, like switching wings with Bobby Convey to confuse defenders or the outside runs he makes with Myers to free up space for the rest of Sporting’s midfield to try and create something.
Sporting KC’s Style of Play:
Sporting KC runs a 4-3-3 formation with an emphasis on attack; an emphasis that Peter Vermes instilled into this side in 2009 when he took over at the helms of the then Kansas City Wizards. That mindset is still very much carried on today in this 4-3-3 formation of Sporting KC’s. And with a 4-3-3 formation obviously most of a team’s threats will come from the wings – in KC’s case it is no different. Basically at the start of the season everything we did offensively came from the wings (i.e. DC United, New England, FC Dallas). And even now most of our attacks will still come from the flanks.
Now you might ask, with a team that is so driven to attack it must leave them susceptible at the back right? Wrong, Sporting KC has let in just one goal the entire season and even then it wasn’t because a team was breaking down the backline with intricate passes, it was off an unstoppable Ricardo Villar free kick. Yes, Sporting’s defense has also been just as good as the offense this season and even when the star-studded offense hasn’t produced to their full potential the defense has been there to help out. In-fact in yesterday’s 1-0 win to the LA Galaxy Sporting KC’s defense all but shut down a team that on paper, should be the best in the league.
by: Alex Englén
Follow Alex on twitter @AlexEnglenSKC
Email him at [email protected]