By Nick Hartman:
(Kansas City, MO) As March 2nd nears, Sporting KC is prepping for a season that will hopefully be full of wins and maybe a MLS Cup. Sporting KC’s preseason has been very successful. They only lost once in the five games they played. The first game was played against FC Tuscon on January 31st and this game ended in a 1-1 draw. The next preseason game Sporting played was on February 1st against the Portland Timbers. Sporting KC won this one 1-0. Sporting KC played the Montreal Impact for their third preseason game. Unfortunately, this game ended in a 2-1 loss yet Sporting had a great performance. Sporting KC quickly bounced back from their tough loss and regained strength for their fourth game winning 2-0 over DC United. Sporting KC won their final preseason game 1-0 over the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Based on the preseason, Sporting KC looks very ready and new guys Benny Felihaber and Claudio Bieler are fitting into the Sporting KC 4-3-3 formation very well. It is also very apparent that Graham Zusi has improved a lot and will be a huge threat with Sporting KC this year. Both Felihaber and Zusi seem to have a different chemistry than the others and coach Peter Vermes has noticed saying,
“Zusi could play all five positions, and I’m talking about the three up top and the two attacking midfielders. Benny could play four of them. He could play wide or he could play the two underneath. So that interchange between them, I don’t know, maybe sometimes they will end up being two attacking mids together. There are just a lot of different combinations we can do. But, I like Zusi out wide at times because I think he gives us another player on the offensive line that can hold the ball and create from there. I like that part of it. And then Claudio gives us a lot of that, we haven’t had it in the past, someone that we can play through. He’s very good on the one-twos the top of the box.”
Oriol Rosell is another player who is expected to have a break out season. He played in every preseason game with Sporting and had some great performances. First round pick, Mikey Lopez is also expected to play often for Sporting this year but there is one question, “Where is he going to play?” Sporting already expects Benny Felihaber, Graham Zusi, Oriol Rosell or Bobby Convey to start this year and they have depth with Paulo Nagumara, Peterson Joseph and Michael Thomas.
Right now it is hard to tell how Peter Vermes will set his line up for opening day in Philadelphia on March 2nd but this might give you an idea of some options. First, if Vermes runs the 4-3-3 formation, Jimmy Nielsen will start in the net with Besler, Sinovic, Collin, and Myers on the defense. Felihaber, Zusi and Rosell or Convey will be at mid-field with Sapong, Bieler and Bunbury up front. Those 11 will all start but he might change where they start. Another possible formation Vermes could run is the 4-4-2. In this case, the same four would start on defense but it would put Felihaber, Zusi, Rosell or Convey and Bieler together at mid-field and have Sapong and Bunbury up front. These formations Vermes could set up a winning starting 11.
As for substitutes, Eric Krongberg will likely be the substitute for Jimmy Nielsen if Nielsen somehow became injured. Then at defense it will be Ike Opara, Josh Gardner and possibly Kyle Miller. At mid-fielder it will likely be Paulo Nagamura, Peterson Joseph, Mikey Lopez or Michael Thomas. And finally Sporting KC will likely feature Saad, Peterson or Dwyer at forward for substitution.
Finally, Sporting KC has a fairly easy schedule, the only tough games could be against their biggest rival, the Houston Dynamo, the LA Galaxy in LA and the Seattle Sounders. The CONCACAF Champions league could also prove to be tough for Sporting, when they get to July and August and have three games in a week, My prediction for Sporting KC this year is a 19-10-8 record.
Tell Us your predictions for the year by commenting at the bottom and come back when the season begins for more Sporting KC info! Thanks for reading and have a great day