The Vancouver Whitecaps will go looking for their first win of the season, when they take on Sporting Kansas City over the weekend. SKC already sits at 1-0, after an opening season win against the Seattle Sounders. For Vancouver, it will be a tough road test against a talented squad.
We spoke to Cody Bradley of fellow SBNation blog The Blue Testament to get his point of view on the upcoming match, a new addition for Sporting Kansas City, and how these two teams stack up. You can also check Cody out on twitter, @ThatCodyTho.
86Forever: What Did you Take Away from Sporting Kansas City's first match?
Cody Bradley: It's actually kind of hard to tell what you can take away from last week's win. First of all, there were plenty of injuries so we didn't necessarily get a look at the First XI. And then on top of that, half the match was played with a man advantage. But they did have the same overall qualities of PV's teams in years passed. They were high pressure and high intensity, they were physical, they kept themselves in it and gave themselves a shot to win points.
However the goal was rather fortunate and it's hard to tell how much you can look into the 30 straight passes that led to it when you consider the red card. But one glaring fact is that Roger Espinoza is back. SKC did very well in the midfield and it is mainly because of Roger. After his injury for a big portion of last season it is very nice to have him back.
Overall I came away feeling pretty damn good about it. If that is how they looked without Benny Feilhaber, and with Connor Hallisey on the wing in stead of Brad Davis/Justin Mapp, then this team could be really dangerous at full strength.
86F: What can you tell me about SKC's newest addition, 22 year old Diego Rubio?
CB: Depth is what Vermes and this team preached all preseason. When you look at each position in this lineup, there are basically two guys for every spot you can feel comfortable about. Until a few days ago, the one exception to that rule was at striker. Although it is very weird to bring a DP striker to be a backup, it looks like that is what Rubio will be for a while.
Sporting KC moved Nemeth to the wing to get him on the field, but he was a more developed, well-rounded player than Rubio. This young player appears to be a true center forward that operates right in front of goal and needs service. So it is hard to see him playing on the wing, at least for a while. It is also really, really hard to see Vermes switching up his beloved 4-3-3 to accommodate an untested, unfamiliar 22 year old.
BUT... the loan is only until June 30th with an option to purchase him, or to extend the loan through the MLS season. If he is to be Dom's backup, his starts will be very sparse until USOC and CCL play begin later in the season.
86F: In your opinion, how do SKC stack up with the Whitecaps?
CB: This is going to be a great game, I love when these teams get together. Beyond the fun match up of Dwyer/Waston, there are a few other parts of the field to keep an eye on.
Fraser Aird made his debut last week for the Whitecaps and is a ripe 21 years old. If he is starting again, he is going to have his hands full with the combination of Brad Davis and Graham Zusi flying at him on the wing. Brad was out last week, but in preseason he appeared to slide perfectly into the lineup and he should be available Saturday. He and Zusi are dangerous from both sides and will be switching up the wings frequently to give Aird something different to deal with all game.
The new CB duo of Coelho and Besler is going to really be put to the test. The sneaky, quick, and dangerous Octavio Rivero will be lurking and Pedro Morales has the skills to find him. The communication between the Portugese native Coelho, the rest of the back line, and Tim Melia, will be challenged as they try to keep track of Rivero.
I'm interested to see how SKC deals with Pedro Morales. Soni Mustivar at holding mid will bear a lot of that load, but you can definitely expect to see Morales and Espinoza collide quite a bit as well. Espinoza will be there to be physical with, and disrupt Morales. Hopefully to funnel him straight into the defense. Mustivar is there to intercept the passes if he does get them off. But Sporting KC will hope that Mustivar and the defense have a handle on things in order to free up Espinoza to get further down the pitch and join the attack.
Projected Lineup: (4-3-3) Tim Melia, Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Nuno Andre Coelho, Amadou Dia, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Jordi Quintilla, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Brad Davis
Predicted Score: 3-1 SKC over Vancouver