The Colorado Rapids travel to take on Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City this Saturday in a match that is of critical importance to the Rapids as they look to get closer to playoff position. Cody from The Blue Testament and I exchanged questions about this match and here is what he had to say:
Burgundy Wave: How has the transition gone from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference for SKC.
The Blue Testament: The schedule seems to be attempting to ease us into it, actually. Half of the games have been against the Eastern Conference, plus a game against Houston, who is also new to the West. That being said, 11 of KC's 14 points have come from the East and both losses from the new conference. So it hasn't really felt different yet. That will change for the good when another scrappy match against rival RSL comes around in June.
BW: Losing Ike Opara is a big blow for SKC from his leadership on the field to his skill in the back. How does Sporting replace a guy like that?
TBT: Well... they didn't. Vermes did say they were exploring all options for bringing in a CB, but the window has closed for the time being. Hometown kid, Kevin Ellis, who has played all over the field for KC, has been filling in. It's been a step down to say the least. This week however, it looks like the other hometown kid Erik Palmer-Brown will be getting a start before he leaves for the U-20 World Cup. Jalil Anibaba is capable of playing CB but has been at RB while the club awaits the return of Chance Myers. So yes, the once impenetrable back line has holes. When Myers comes back in June, it will have to be Anibaba/Ellis pairing with Besler until the next window opens on July 9th.
BW: Two years ago SKC won the MLS Cup. What is the ceiling for this team?
TBT: KC will always be expecting to compete for silverware each season. The talent to do that was there until Ike went down. I'm confident Vermes will remedy the lack of another CB in the next window, but right now it is hard to think SKC can win something with so many questions in the back.
On the other hand, Feilhaber is perhaps the best he has ever been, Krisztian Nemeth looks more dangerous with every touch of the ball, and they are in a playoff spot now before Dwyer has caught fire. Chance is due back in a couple weeks to bolster the back line, and the club has talked about bringing in a DP level attacking player in addition to finding a new CB. With the team as is until July, the ceiling for SKC probably stops before the Supporter's Shield. But the talent is there to make a run in the playoffs or at the Open Cup.
Predicted Formation: (4-3-3) Tim Melia, Jalil Anibaba, Erik Palmer-Brown, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Krisztian Nemeth, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson
Predicted Score: 3-1 to Sporting
You can see my answers over at The Blue Testament.