Colorado Rapids travel to Kansas to take on Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night in a massive Western Conference match. The Rapids are coming off a three-week break that saw them trade their Captain Sam Cronin and defensive stalwart Marc Burch to Minnesota United FC. Sporting has yet to lose a match this season, and the Burgundy Boys should expect a supreme test as they visit the Blue Hell of Children’s Mercy Park.
Cody from our partner blog The Blue Testament and I exchanged questions about #SKCvCOL this week and here is what I asked him. You can find my answers to his questions over at The Blue Testament.
Burgundy Wave: Sporting got completely hosed when they bowed out of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. How did that sit with the club and what have they done to ensure that doesn't happen again?
The Blue Testament: Well at the risk of stating the obvious - it did not sit well. The club has branded itself as a top-class, trophy-winning team and the fans have high standards. Most of the people you talk to around here would simply roll their eyes at six straight playoff appearances at this point. There was big roster turnover this year and Vermes brought reinforcements almost everywhere.
Gerso comes to us as a DP bringing tons of speed and creativity on the wing. 19 year old Latif Blessing is another newcomer up front. He is still very green but he has a lot of people excited. The holding midfield position is incredibly important to Peter Vermes' system and he found somebody he likes even more than Soni Mustivar (who he claimed a couple years ago was the MVP of the team). Ilie Sanchez has been brilliant at the back of the midfield in his first MLS matches. In his switch to right-back, I am even going to count Graham Zusi as defensive reinforcements. All of a sudden the back line has an incredible cohesiveness that's been built from years of playing together.
In addition to the bigger moves there were plenty of additions to the depth chart. Vermes now has options that he would have dreamed of last year.
BW: Sporting is 1-0-3 on the year and seem to be playing well...but only have one win to show for it. What is going right and what is going wrong?
TBT: Despite all the new help, they still can't score. Literally everything is going right except one last final touch. SKC has scored one goal this year (and were gifted another). You can see the team is better than last year for so many reasons, but its that same story. They create all the chances in the world and limit the opponent to a few, but they can't figure out how to put a match away. Dom Dwyer needs to do his number one job - score goals. I love him for the amount of work he puts in, but the guy keeps missing sitters. To be fair, obviously everyone involved in the attack is coming up short.
It is getting annoying saying the same thing about every match for the last two seasons, but like I said they are clearly improved and the chances have been there. Hell, they're undefeated and they've won points from really tough teams! I'm not worried. Yet.
BW: The Rapids have miraculously played pretty well over the last year or so against Sporting. What can the Burgundy Boys expect from the Blue Hell this weekend?
TBT: This team has the same core and will definitely play a lot like what you've grown accustomed to over the years from a Peter Vermes squad. The stingy defense and hard fouls are there again. The outside backs love to get forward as always. Benny will still be yelling at the ref in the midfield. You know, all the same old stuff.
But they are much quicker than last season with the likes of Gerso, Blessing & Medranda flying down the wings. Sanchez locking down the midfield in the back has allowed Benny to be further up the pitch and more involved. Plus the defense is obviously locking it down.
I'm hoping to really see SKC come out flying on Sunday. They'll be in the comfort of CMP and they know the defense is solid. Fans are going to be hungry for some goals! Vermes often speaks about putting on a show at home, so we shall see.
The Rapids and Sporting take to the pitch at 5:00 PM MDT and that match can be viewed on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports Deportes.