We talked with Cody Bradley from The Blue Testament to find out more about who has had the biggest impact in KC this year and how Sporting Kansas City is going to continue without Felipe Gutierrez for the next couple of months.
Burgundy Wave: Sporting brought in quite a few new guys this offseason - who do you think has had the biggest impact so far and why?
The Blue Testament: At this point, I have to go with Johnny Russell. Felipe Gutierrez is the driving force and MVP, but the team has been without him for a while now. Russell has become very comfortable on the right wing for SKC and banged in 5 goals (level with Gutierrez for team lead) and has 2 assists as well. He makes trademark runs into the box where he isn’t afraid to run straight at multiple defenders. He sacrifices his body on every play. And he has already won the hearts & minds of SKC fans by defending teammates in scuffles. The team is now more exciting, forceful, and better yet, more lethal.
BW: Felipe Gutierrez has been out for a few games already and SKC seems to be doing okay without him, but how much of a blow is losing him for the next couple of months due to his hernia surgery?
TBT: Before last week everyone would have been carefree. It looked like SKC could rack up the goals without him, but a 1-0 shutout in New England makes it more difficult to not worry. It’s a huge blow to lose him for 2-3 months as this team was looking unstoppable with him driving the bus. Yohan Croizet has been filling in for the attacking midfielder position but was a big let down last week.
There are still questions with how exactly this team will lineup without Felipe, but my guess is that Jimmy Medranda is going to get a shot at playing in that #10 spot. He’s built up confidence and is having a great season since moving to leftback. However, this doesn’t mean Croizet won’t be playing. We could see him on the wing or even at striker.
So really I guess what I’m saying is... I don’t freaking know. Their maestro is gone and it was VERY noticeable last match. Someone is going to have to step up big.
BW: SKC’s game against NE last week wasn’t pretty. Did NE expose any of KC’s weaknesses or was it just a terrible game? If it was the former, what weakness(es) are you worried about? If it was the latter, how do you think the team has adjusted?
TBT: I really can’t pick them apart too terribly. They were not playing nearly as well as they had shown they are capable of this season, but they had their chances to pull out a result. Moreover, the goal that was scored against them should really have an asterisk next to it.
Going to New England on the turf isn’t easy. Away trips in MLS aren’t easy no matter where it is. This team has proven to have a deadly attack and I’m not going to look into the loss as some big overlying problem, or that Sporting isn’t as good as we all thought.
With that being said, what was exposed was that Croizet is not going to be the guy they need at #10. He had a great game the week before, a breakout Player of the Week type performance. He then had a huge opportunity to build off the confidence from that game and show his team he can be the guy. But he was very, very quiet and made some head shaking mistakes before subbing out in the 63rd minute. I do believe Croizet will find success with SKC somewhere this season, but last week showed me he still has a ways to go if he wants to truly fit into that #10 on the back of his jersey.
Lineup: Tim Melia, Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza, Jimmy Medranda, Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton, Johnny Russell
Score: 2-0 Sporting KC because it’s what I want to happen (Abbie’s note: Not going to happen)