The Vancouver Whitecaps are looking to bounce back after a supremely disappointing outing against the Colorado Rapids last weekend. It won't be easy, as they take on an under-performing, but still dangerous Sporting Kansas City squad for the first time this season.
To help us preview what SKC has to offer, we touched base with Cody Bradley of fellow SBNation site 'The Blue Testament'.
Eighty-Six Forever: Are SKC a better team than sixth place? Where do you anticipate this club will be at the end of the season?
Cody Bradley: This team is far better than 6th place. The stat I have been looking at for the last week is the points per game. At 1.69, KC has the highest in all of MLS. Sporting have several games in hand on the leaders in the West and have done nothing but climb the ranks since a rough patch to open the season. With a bunch of new guys and injuries, it took several games for this team to find its footing.
Players like Nemeth and Espinoza had to get acclimated and the rookies filling in for injuries had to build some confidence. Luis Marin was benched for Tim Melia and Soni Mustivar took over the holding midfield spot. While there are still questions that need answered, this is a different team that can beat anyone in either league. Another attacking player is needed along with a true CB, but even without them KC should be right there at the top when the season comes to an end. Fans of this team are always going to have high expectations, but this year is Champion's League or bust.
86F: Krisztian Nemeth has 7 goals this season. Is that a bloated stat, or is he performing for SKC? (As a fellow Hungarian, had to ask about him)
CB: Nemo is just simply THAT good. The fun part is he is only getting better. He has a lethalness to him in the box that KC have needed for some time. Those 7 goals have come from his total of 7 shots on goal for the season. He can launch powerful shots from distance, but also dance around guys in tight spaces. It was clear from the get-go in preseason that he was going to a big player for the club this year and it has been a pleasure watching him.
As Nemeth gets more and more confident he will only find more success. His chipped goal against Dallas in the Open Cup makes that very clear. He also gets better as his rapport up top with Dom Dwyer continues to build. By the end of the year he could very well be competing for the Golden Boot and be one of the best players in all of MLS.
86F: SKC hasn't played in 11 days. Do you see that as a positive or a negative?
CB: If anything, it is probably a negative. After scoring 6 goals against Dallas, the boys had to be chomping at the bit to play again. That being said, several guys had bumps and bruises and a few days off couldn't hurt them. Sinovic is still trying to come back from a concussion, it gave Chance Myers some more to time to get back to 90 minutes fit, and also Nagamura and Peterson are now available for this weekend.
So while it probably would have been advantageous to keep their hot hand rolling, Peter Vermes is not the kind of coach to let his team get lackadaisical. His guys will be raring to go and confident they can pull out a result.
Lineup Prediction: (4-3-3) Tim Melia, Chance Myers, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Amadou Dia, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Krisztian Nemeth, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson
Score Prediction: Sporting Kansas City 2 - 2 Vancouver Whitecaps