Wednesday night will feature the second battle between SKC and WFC. Round one went to Kansas, but with a big win over FC Dallas under their belt, the Whitecaps will be hoping they finally found the spark they needed to start racking up wins.
We got in touch with Cody Bradley from The Blue Testament, and got his thoughts on what to expect from this Sporting Kansas City side.
ESF: After a hot start, Sporting has lost four of their last five. What's gone south during that span?
CB: I am going to be a bad pundit here and fail to give you a big problem and claim I have the key to turning it around. Every game has been something different, but the one common theme I suppose has to be finishing issues. It's not a couple players, everyone has been missing. Each loss was by one goal and Sporting KC had countless chances in each of them to get a result.
Two rusty players made two terrible mistakes that led to two goals and the loss against RSL. Vermes tried to rest players against Colorado and it back fired. The 2-1 loss in Dallas was against the Supporter's Shield leaders. On Sunday, referee Jair Marrufo happened, as well as a blatant missed penalty call. Everything has been so marginal.
A fair amount of fans are starting to panic, but SKC will be fine. They have been in every single game and had chances to win. There is no reason to believe they wouldn't beat those teams the next time they play.
ESF: This is the second time SKC and the Caps are dueling it out this season; the first time ended up with Sporting ending up on top 2-1. Do you expect Coach Vermes to enter this game with the same mentality, squad, and formation as last time, or will he change his recipe?
CB: As far as the lineup goes, Vancouver will see Benny Feilhaber this time around and Brad Davis will play more than 13 minutes as well. KC will be missing one of the most important players on the roster in Soni Mustivar, and Lawrence Olum will most likely fill in.
Although players are missing, I'll be very surprised to see Vermes not come out with his trusty 4-3-3 formation. He did (astonishingly) play with two strikers for a brief period one match this season, but it is known that he doesn't like to stray away from his system. It is known. However I would actually really like to see them try it!
The mentality may be noticeably different. At home they like to try put on a show (like the beautiful team goal that secured the win the first game) while they tend to sit further back and pick their chances to push forward at on the road. But I expect the mentality this game will be do to whatever end the losing streak and grind out at least a point. So it could get scrappy!
ESF: Dom Dwyer has been your key cog up front, with four of your nine goals. Do you expect the SKC attack to revolve around him for the rest of the season, or do you hope for other forwards to step up?
CB: I do expect the scoring to revolve around Dwyer. He will get going and scored a bunch of goals, but he has also been a better distributor this season. He is going to assist a fair amount of goals to Davis/Zusi/Feilhaber as well. The Dwyer & Davis linkup has shown flashes of a dangerous partnership, plus Graham Zusi is playing much more aggressive and hungry to score as well. Feilhaber is going to get his goals and Espinoza will probably get a few when it's all said and done.
Dom set his sights on 30 goals this year. That may be lofty, but at his best, Dom is borderline unstoppable for the full 90 minutes. The offense is always going to revolve around his hold up play, his relentless hustle, his passing, and of course the cannon that is his left boot.
(4-3-3) Tim Melia, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Amadou Dia, Lawrence Olum, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Brad Davis
Predicted Final Score
Sporting KC 2 - 2 Vancouver Whitecaps