The Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City get together for the second time tomorrow night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and for both teams this is a big one:
The Rapids want to keep the good form goin
And Sporting wants to fix their bad run of form.
Cody and I from The Blue Testament exchanged questions about this match and here is what he had to say:
Burgundy Wave: What in the world is going on at Children's Mercy Park? SKC went from top of the table to sixth.
The Blue Testament: There are several issues of course, most of which are little things. But numbers would indicate it is an issue of finishing, or quality in the final third. Sporting KC has been dominating teams. Truly dominating. But they have been unable to get a win in the last six, and only one in the last eight. They control games and possession, they get their shots off, but they have not scored more than two goals in a game this season, and they've only done that twice! (Although to be fair, they haven't conceded more than two goals yet either.)
It feels to me there is one last lethal touch or pass that's been missing, and that has been Benny Feilhaber. Honestly, he has looked lost at times. He's not been the same player so far and SKC really needs him to turn it around. Also as much as it pains me to say it, Graham Zusi has not been playing well to the point I believe he's hurt them at times. The guy has had moments where he shows flashes of the old Zusi, but then he will send in a cross or a corner kick that makes you cover your eyes and turn your head.
I am still holding strong in that I believe the team has the quality to do well this season. Like I said, they've been controlling most games. Moreover, the games with dropped points have come against the top five teams on the Supporter's Shield table.
Against LA it was just one quick counter attack and an amazing chip that led to two missed points. Against Houston they didn't deserve to win at all, but the two goals conceded were soft and probably should have been dealt with by Tim Melia. It's just been a couple things each match. They preach parity in this league and it is oh so true. Small margins of error lead to dropped points and a few dropped points can have you tumbling down the table.
You opened a can of worms with that one, so I apologize for the rant. But like I said, I think Sporting will be just fine. They've shown they can hang with, and even dominate the best. They just need to clean things up and find a way to be more clinical when the chances come.
BW: The Rapids have won three in a row against Sporting. How has that happened?
TBT: Good question! First of all - I will openly admit I'm still salty about this - but last year the referee missed a straight football tackle/hockey check and one of the most cynical handballs I've ever seen, all in one play that led immediately to the game winner for the Rapids. If you recall, that was the game Vermes lost it in the post game interview. However I do believe that Sporting was guilty of looking passed Colorado last year. Despite a bad call or someone being lucky/unlucky, SKC put themselves in positions for things like that to happen and to drop points.
The Rapids are definitely better this year, and they are even better now than when these teams met in April. But I will say that, Sporting KC was definitely the better team in April and should have won that game. Both of the goals for the Rapids were ridiculous, embarrassing, give-aways from KC. Also how did that ball come off the crossbar SO ABSOLUTELY perfectly for Gashi? But hopefully Sporting KC realizes that Colorado has had their number lately and they all play angry. I think we see the first smudge on the Rapids home record this season.
BW: Peter Vermes seems to be the safest of coaches in the league. But is he getting any grief for this slide?
TBT: Yes, he is very safe. And no, he isn't getting any grief from me at least. The people who don't see behind the scenes and ignore his incredible ability at finding talent, the knock on him has always been his lack of flexibility. That he is too set in his ways and in stead of adapting to each game, that he sticks with his system.
If that is what he was doing in the midst of this slide, then he probably would be getting much more grief. But PV has actually switched up his beloved 4-3-3 a few times. He has put all three of his CBs in at the same time, he's played Dom Dwyer and Diego Rubio at the same time, hell he played Zusi at some wild form of a right-back against LA (that actually worked and Zusi was on TOTW... as a defender). Now just because you asked, I will give him a little bit of grief. After switching things up and looking so good, he went back to the 4-3-3 for Houston. It was a very ugly match and at this point, everyone involved at all deserves some of the blame. Everybody needs to be better.
The team is in a slump and fans are not happy, so naturally there is finger pointing going on. But I don't think PV is getting anymore blame than should be expected from irrational, angry fans. His team has been in every game. His team controls matches. His team limits chances for opponents. What is he to do when his team's 17 shots only count for one goal? He's a great motivator and I believe he'll get all the quality on this team going in the right direction again.
(4-3-3) Alec Kann, Amadou Dia, Nuno Coelho, Matt Besler, Chance Myers, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Brad Davis, Dom Dwyer, Jimmy Medranda
Sporting KC 4 - 2 Colorado Rapids
You can find my answers over at The Blue Testament.