They've played just once so far this season, and it was Sporting Kansas City coming out on top. Now, the Whitecaps have a chance for revenge, as they hit the road for round number two. We spoke with Cody Bradley of 'The Blue Testament' to see what he thought about the match-up, in another edition of 3 Questions With.
Eighty Six Forever: SKC are coming off a 3-1 win over RSL, and have just two outright losses in their last 10 matches. What's fueling the hot streak?
Actually you can go back further. Those are the only two losses since the middle of April and SKC only have 4 losses the whole season! There was a lot of turnover in the off season that needed to be dealt with, a lot of new faces getting acclimated. But once Melia and Mustivar took over their positions, everyone learned their role in the system and it all started clicking.
What is fueling the hot streak is a very difficult question. I am inclined to just say that this is a really solid, and deep lineup. But when you look at it from a far, this team probably shouldn't be this good. Kevin Ellis is not a real CB and has been starting there basically all season for Ike Opara. Three, count em three, rookies have played very real minutes (sometimes all on the field at once). Due to injuries and other absences, Jacob Peterson has had to play more than most people would like. And the "next big thing" keeper who was brought in to take the throne of Jimmy Nielsen left the team, and now KC is playing a guy who was an MLS pool keeper last season.
I have to say that it is Peter Vermes that has fueled this. It is his system, it is the culture he has developed, and it is the confidence he has in his players. He keeps them in the right mindset, even when down a goal, and does a great job of inspiring them. This all just came to fruition on Wednesday night when he became the all time winning-est coach in SKC history.
86F: Benny Feilhaber has been around MLS for a while, but seems to be stepping up his game big time this year, at least according to his stat line. What's your take on his play?
We cannot say enough about the guy here in KC. I don't think there is a positive adjective that exists in the universe that hasn't been used to describe his play this season. He sits at 10 goals and 17 assists across all competitions (though he feels a bit robbed about not getting the credit for assisting Nemeth's final goal against RSL Wednesday) and looks like those numbers will just keep climbing. He's got a goal or an assist (or both) in the last six games. The dude is out of his mind. He himself couldn't even really explain it in an interview.
Giovinco is the bigger name obviously, and has more goals, but for me Benny Feilhaber has been the best player in MLS to this point and deserves MVP. He does everything on the field. Everything. He can create for and make all of his teammates better, he can create a chance and finish it all himself, and yet he will also track back and defend anytime he is needed. Bottom line... the man is insane right now and it is just too much fun to watch!
86F: What strategy would you employ to win the match for SKC?
Well I am admittedly a little scared of this game. I have always really respected Vancouver's play. I love watching Morales and Rivero. I think they are capable of exposing holes in our defense and making some people look bad in the process. Although it does look like the Whitecaps may very well be missing a few key players.
Because of the win SKC was able to get in Vancouver, and because of their MLS best (by far) road goal differential of +5, I don't see any shame in maybe sitting back slightly more than a normal home match. Vermes does often talk about playing an attractive style and putting on a show for fans at home.
While I think this team will still do that, I would be emphasizing defensive shape and tracking back far more than if this was another team coming to town. Roger Espinoza is out which means the midfield won't be as tight and we will see Nagamura and/or Amobi Okugo. Plus, Zusi is likely out which means it'll be more difficult to keep possession up top with Jacob Peterson (or rookie Connor Hallisey) filling in.
This could end up being a huge match in the Supporters' Shield race so I would like to see Sporting keep the fullbacks on defense a little more and let Benny pick and choose moments to send in Dom and Nemo on goal. PV has made this a very patient team and I think that is what we will see on Saturday.
Tim Melia, Chance Myers, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Amadou Dia, Soni Mustivar, Paolo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber, Krisztian Nemeth, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson
Sporting Kansas City 2 - 2 Vancouver Whitecaps