Sporting Kansas City are 2-0 this season with two shutouts. Of course, the two teams dispatched to get to this point -- New England and D.C. -- have a combined record of 0-4-0 with a goal differential of -7. (In fact, only D.C. has scored a single goal.)
So, it's probably OK to say that we don't exactly quite know how good Sporting KC are right now. We know what theyare capable of
, but not how they stack up against a team with a real defense.
You know, like Dallas.
The home opener is in the rearview mirror. It was a great night --it was only missing this
. Now it's time to get down to business. The next six matches are against the Western Conference opponents -- including Dallas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake, Vancouver and Portland.
The season starts now. Or, um, Sunday night.
Kickoff is 6 p.m. on Sunday night at Livestrong Sporting Park. If you can't make it out to the stadium the broadcast is on KSMO-TV and Galavision (if you get that on your TV package).
The Big Question
Are there enough goals in this team?
This seems like a ridiculous question at this point, I know, but bear with me.
Yes, the team poured three goals on New England -- something that, as a team, they only did six times in all of 2011. Yes, this is almost exactly the same team that finished second in MLS with 50 goals scored. Yes, the team is on pace for 64 goals this season.
But... there's always a but.
Teal Bunbury is away on national team duty for this game, the next and (likely) most of August. Omar Bravo is back South of the Border. Between them, those guys had 18 goals between them last year.
Does KC have enough to replace that production?
Saturday's goal scorers, C.J. Sapong, Kei Kamara and Graham Zusi (combined goals last year: 19) will have to shoulder most of the burden. Sapong is off to a strong start and is on pace for a Messi-like 34 goals this season. But that really can't last all season, can it?
Can Roger Espinoza (one goal last year, four near goals last Saturday) and Bobby Convey (11 career MLS goals) pick up that slack? Or, could the extra goals come from Soony Saad (yet to see the field this year), Jacob Peterson (one appearance for SKC, nine career MLS goals) and Dom Dwyer (hasn't suited up for SKC yet)?
Doesn't really matter where they come, just that they come. There's a lot of season left and a lot of goals that need scored.
What's Dallas Missing?
The Magical Mystical MLS Unicorn, Brek Shea. He's away on national team duty with Teal Bunbury trying to get the U.S. to the Olympics. But that's not all. Dallas are also hurting with former MLS MVP David Ferreira and starlet Fabian Castillo nursing injuries. (Castillo was listed as OUT on the Tuesday injury report.)
Dallas does have a really good defense -- with former KC ‘keeper and peroxide blonde Kevin Hartman -- and Panamanian striker Blas Perez. (If ever there was a candidate for a Brazilian-like first-name-only jersey, it's Blas right?) While it's not the same teamthat dropped two late goals here last August
, this won't be a team that rolls over.
Watch Jimmy Nielsen, C.J. Sapong and Roger Espinoza talk about Sporting's hot start to the season and their preparation for the upcoming game against Dallas.
The biggest question mark for KC's lineup rests on the status of Aurelien Collin's hamstring strain. If he can't go, Peter Vermes will have the choice of letting defensive midfielder Julio Cesar slip back or bringing in Lawrence Olum from the bench. Neither are preferred to the Frenchman.
Fun with Numbers
Anyone can do stats. But here at The Full 90's Pre-Match Ramble, you get to ride the stat elevator to every floor.First-level stat:
Sporting haven't allowed a goal this season. According to MLSsoccer.com, only one team in MLS history has started a season posting THREE shutouts -- the 2007 New York Red Bulls.Second-level stat: Sporting have allowed just seven goals in its last 13 MLS (regular and post-season) matches. That dates all the way back to the 3-2 heartbreaker to Dallas
In its last seven MLS (regular and post-season) matches, only the Houston Dynamo have scored multiple goals on KC.Fourth-level stat:
Since June 1, 2011, only five teams have scored multiple goals against Sporting Kansas City -- Toronto (2), Seattle (2), Dallas (3), Los Angeles (2) and Houston (2).Bonus-level stat: All five of those multi-goal games... were at LIVESTRONG SPORTING PARK!
**Of course, nearly every SKC game after June 11th HAPPENED AT LSP. But please, ignore that and enjoy the stat all the same.
Subs: Jon Kempin; Michael Harrington, Lawrence Olum; Luke Sassano, Paulo Nagamura; Soony Saad, Jacob Peterson
Sporting KC 1, Dallas 1. Goal by, yep, you guessed it: C.J. Sapong. But I think Dallas has enough about them (Blas, mostly) to pull one back late,not quite like last time
, but it'll still smart.
Song to Get You Ready
Dallas is in Texas. Austin's also in Texas. Austin hosts South by Southwest. A few local KC bands played at SXSW -- including the exceedingly excellent and label-defying band Hearts of Darkness.
Hence: Hearts of Darkness "Numeration" is your locally-grown song for this post. (We are planning on using way more local music in this space this year.)