clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How You Doin'? Match III – Sporting KC

Cody Bradley of The Blue Testament stops by for a chat ahead of the third game of the season in Kansas City against Sporting KC

Blue Hell hath no Mercy
Blue Hell hath no Mercy
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Sunday's kickoff, Waking the Red exchanged questions with Cody Bradley of SB Nation Sporting KC sister-site, The Blue Testament, covering a range of topics from roster building, the club resurgence from the dark days of yore, and their prospects for 2016, as well as a modest jab from the peanut gallery.

Cody's responses can be found below:

Question the First
Peter Vermes has done a fine job of building a competitive roster year over year. He's used a mix of continuity and continual turnover in putting together a team that has to be considered a contender. There is a solid, long serving core – Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, and Dom Dwyer, to name but a few – while Vermes adds in key veterans when available – Brad Davis and Benny Feilhaber in particular, but within that mix, there is some concern that consistency is difficult to find when players are constantly cycled in and out. MLS is a middling league, for now, and players will move on, but are there any worries regarding the inability to hold onto to those who could have made the team better? Names like Krisztian Nemeth and Uri Rosell come to mind. And how do some of the longer shots that Vermes takes fit with the team ethos? He's fond of the occasional left-field moonshot – Soni Mustivar and Sunil Chhteri, come to mind.

Sporting KC have definitely done a good job of keeping the core players around. Half of the starting lineup right now including Feilhaber, Besler, Zusi, Dwyer, and Myers have been together since winning MLS Cup in 2013. And then you have other key guys who have been here since then like Ike Opara, Seth Sinovic, Paulo Nagamura, and even Jacob Peterson. Roger Espinoza also feels like he should fall in there despite leaving for a spell over seas.

As far as people leaving for bigger teams abroad, some of have been tough. Uri and Nemo, as you said, but also Kamara leaving was hard for many fans to swallow. This is definitely the scope of MLS currently and with the business model of the club, a good business move is a good business move. They buy low and they sell high. I would not say there is anymore concern with this club about losing players than with other MLS clubs. They have shown that they are willing to keep players with DP contracts to Zusi and Besler after the World Cup. Dwyer earned a new contract after his breakout season as well.

I also don't think it is a bad thing for this club to be seen overseas eyes as a club who brings players in, makes something more of them, and then also gives them a chance to pursue what they want. That makes this team an appealing option for talent to test the waters in MLS.

One thing thing that must be said here is that yes, it does suck losing those players. It is bad for the league to lose young talent. But the current track record of Vermes and this FO finding talent is outstanding. Knowing that another diamond in the rough is coming soon or possibly here already allows me to move past tough losses pretty easily.

We will not see, any time soon at least, this club go out and find the guy who is already worth millions like Toronto FC. They operate with a sound business model and find players who WILL BE worth millions. Therefore, it is likely this could all happen again. Dwyer, Quintilla, Mustivar all come to mind when I think about that. However, Sporting KC has been building up a lot of money over the years through some of these moves. Plus, it's not like the ownership group doesn't have really deep pockets if push came to shove. They have proved many times they can give the fans what they want. So it is definitely possible whenever Europe comes calling again, Sporting could dish out the really big bucks.


Question the Second
The growth of Sporting KC since moving to their new ground has been immense. It may sound harsh, but SKC were rather clearly one of the have-not clubs before the new ownership group came into place, playing on that awkward pitch fashioned out of a baseball diamond. While purely speculation to say they could have faced a fate such as that suffered by Chivas USA, there is a reckoning coming for teams that prevent the league from progressing... How is it that Kansas City have made this turnaround and what lessons should be learned by other clubs looking to improve their situation? Was it all in the new stadium? Did the club take a new approach towards the fans? And how have the first generation supporters welcomed the newcomers to the fold? Is there any tension there?

This team was closer to leaving KC than many people probably realize. It was absolutely the efforts of a few that kept the team around. People here do love the sport and always have, but it isn't exactly a crazy environment playing the cavernous Arrowhead Stadium, or the awkward Community America Baseball Park. But once this ownership group came into the picture, the rest is history.

You asked the right question about the approach towards the fans. That is basically everything right there. The relationship with the ownership and the fans is amazing. The Cauldron literally had an impact in the design of the stadium. Building the crown jewel of stadiums in MLS is obviously a huge part of it as well.

These owners have everything the right way. They are a better business all around. They know their market and how to give it what it wants. They are at the forefront of technology. They do it right behind the scenes as well as providing a great product on the field that wins trophies.

There is absolutely no tension between fans at all. Cauldronites consider it their personal duty to bring someone new to the sport, or team, or stadium, every single chance they get. If you are a soccer fan in this city, you are a soccer fan, and that is the community. The camaraderie is great. That being said, there is a pride among those who have been around for the long haul. The term True96er is for people who there for the KC WIZ in the inaugural season. I myself was a bright eyed, bowl cut, 7 year old watching that first game in Arrowhead. Admittedly, I was a casual fan in the early years and it has been an amazing transformation. The passion of those who helped keep the team around during the dark days is a passion for the sport that still exists and is apparent when you come to this city.


Question the Third
Sporting have started out the season with a pair of solid results, snatching a victory in Seattle and then impressively dispatching a struggling Vancouver side. Points at this time of year are as valuable as any, but there is a risk of reading too much into early victories. What are the prospects for SKC this season and what are the expectations?

I have to admit that I am probably looking too much into the first two games. They stole 3 points in Seattle which is perhaps the toughest match of the season, and also got another big 3 points against a Western Conference foe. They did this without their MVP. They did it with Connor Hallisey starting on the wing in stead of Justin Mapp or Brad Davis. Sporting KC looked really solid last week and gave reason to believe they will compete for trophies again this season. There is so much depth that you can feel confident about whoever is next in line.

Dom Dwyer is confident and in form. Graham Zusi is finally healthy and looking like his old self again. Roger Espinoza is healthy and playing some amazing soccer in the midfield. Chance Myers is healthy and flying down the right flank again. The new guy, Nuno Coelho, is showing he is a threat on set pieces and fitting in very nicely next to Matt Besler in the defense.

Last season, SKC was in prime position to take the Supporter's Shield late in the season. If not for one of the craziest things I've ever seen in PK's they feel they could have won MLS Cup again. The talent is here, the veteran presence is here, the coaching is here, and Sporting KC have their eye on 4 trophies.


Barbed Question
Since winning the cup a few seasons ago, Sporting has not progressed past the Knockout Round in the past two years – losing to the Red Bulls and the Timbers, respectively. As Toronto well knows, getting to the playoffs at all is the first hurdle, but to fall flat two years in a row has to have some asking questions. What would it take for dramatic changes to be made?

Some are asking questions, some. But not many. It is hard to feel like last season was that bad when they won the US Open Cup and qualified for CCL. There is also a sense that if they would have survived that first tough match in the Knockout Round in Portland last season, that they could have done big things by bringing playoff soccer to KC. And not to dwell on it, no matter how hard it might be...NO REALLY I'M FINE... but to be eliminated after having the winning PK bounce of the inside of both posts and then out, is just incredibly unlucky. I understand that is a huge part of sports, but DAMN.

As far as dramatic changes being made, they are not even remotely close to that. Peter Vermes is basically everything to this FO as well as for many of the players, so honestly I don't even know what it would take. A last place finish perhaps? A couple or few seasons of missing the playoffs? It is hard to say. There are a few people out there who don't like Vermes and like to complain about him. But there are also a few people who think the Earth is flat.


Lineup?
(4-3-3) Tim Melia, Chance Myers, Nuno Coelho, Matt Besler, Amadou Dia, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Jordi Quintilla, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Brad Davis

Prediction?
Sporting Kansas City 2 - 2 Toronto FC


And WTR's responses to Cody's questions can be found here.

Many thanks for Cody for taking the time to provide his insight into Sporting KC. He can be found on Twitter and be sure to stop by The Blue Testament for all the latest SKC news ahead of Sunday's match.