SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 01: Seth Sinovic #16 of the Sporting Kansas City dribbles the ball up field in front of Rafael Baca #30 of the San Jose Earthquakes during an MLS soccoer game at Buck Shaw Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Santa Clara, California. The game ended in a 1 to 1 tie. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
San Jose is missing their strikers and Sporting KC hais looking to regain the winning form that it should be having given its play. It has all the makings of both a redemption song and a trap game, so I make an attempt to predict the unpredictable.
No preview has ever been harder to write. Between the underused keys of this laptop and the revolving door of national team call-ups I really have no idea what to expect. The storylines are at least simple. For Sporting Kansas City, the team looks to return to the hope of yesterday that faded away with the heat of a coming summer and find the match form that graced both last year's second half and this April. For San Jose, the evolution from last year's Chris Wondolowski plus ten guys to a complete team is given a challenge as Wondo spends his summer in Jurgen Klinsmann's Boot Camp for troubled young adults that mimics a World Cup for some reason. There are other Sporting KC related talking points so let's ponder them for our enjoyment.
Teal In Charge
Don't let last week's brace fool you, this may never be the correct formation for Teal Bunbury's limitless potential However, let's hope Peter Vermes rides the hot hand at least for the start of the match. The potential for outstanding success is much better with Bunbury on the field, but sometimes the steady hand of CJ Sapong is better as well. In reality, it plays better when Sapong comes off the bench, because his energy is so much more effective. There is a reason that he has appeared in every Sporting match since being drafted with the exception of last week's draw with Colorado, which given the gassed look of previous matches is expected. For Sporting to succeed, Teal needs to be on his game, and once he tires CJ has to pick up where he lost.
The best thing that Sporting KC can take from last night's demolition by the National Team of Scotland is that meaningful possession will eventually lead to success on any scale. There has been a lot of mistrust of Sporting's potential during this losing streak that is perhaps misguided. The reality is that the team is one or two passes away from dominating an opponent. With the formation Sporting plays, it is much more pertinent for midfielders to get into the scoring than other striker heavy teams, like their opponent this week. So for the success to et started, don't look to Teal and CJ. Rather focus upon Graham Zusi, Roger Epsinoza, Kei Kamara, and Bobby Convey to join the action. Without midfield threats, Sporting KC can appear rather toothless.
Sporting Finds Its Defense
The results for the entire span of games look impressive. Then, you remember that Sporting essentially never gave up a goal in open play until the Montreal match. The last few weeks have not been dominated by poor defense but rather by lapses either in judgment or just in man marking. Every great team save Juventus this year and the Invicibles of Arsenal in 2003 lose some games, but it is much better if you are beaten. For the past month, Sporting KC has been beating itself, slipping on set pieces and fouling at inopportune times. The absence of San Jose's most troubling strikers in the past may seem like a godsend, but this iteration of San Jose's squad scores from everywhere so Wondolowski and Lenhart's absence is no guarantee of success.
Same as last week plus Espinoza. For the next month, assume this is complete guesswork.
Sporting KC 2- San Jose 1
Without Wondolowski and Lenhart, where do the goals come from for San Jose. I expect Sporting KC to take this opportunity and get back on a winning track.