Momentum is a fickle, fickle beast. Two weeks ago, Sporting Kansas City had it in aces.
Then Portland happened.
Then a week off happened.
With only reserve-league fixtures -- a mixed bag of results with a 1-0 loss to Colorado and a 2-2 draw with a trialist- and academy-heavy roster -- in between it's totally reasonable to ask: How will Sporting KC's main roster deal with the long layoff?
Can they get back on the horse* quickly? Can they re-establish their momentum?*It's Derby weekend, and I'm Kentucky born, what can I say?
Thankfully, the schedule makers have delivered the eight-points-from-nine-games Montreal Impact this weekend.****It's also a NAFTA dream: A French Canadian team traveling to the middle of the United States to play on a Mexican holiday.
What's more, the expansion Impact are 0-5-1 on the road this year allowing 13 goals.
On paper, this should be a momentum-gathering match for Sporting. Perhaps a multiple-goal fest that announces to the rest of MLS that "Sporting aren't gonna slump." But, the games aren't played on paper -- and Montreal just beat the only team that beat Kansas City.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Livestrong Sporting Park. If you can't make it out to the game, you can follow on KSMO-TV with Callum Williams and Jake Yadrich.
Also, the Sportings will allegedly be wearing the Indigo kits too.
The enemy you know
Davy Arnaud was, probably after Jimmy Conrad, the best known and respected and liked member of the post-Championship era Wizards.
Now, he's the captain for Montreal -- living and playing in a city that can actually accurately pronounce his name properly all the time.
The last two years with Kansas City, Arnaud was Sporting's captain.
He knows this team. He knows this system. He knows the players, almost all of whom called him leader.
He was also the on-field embodiment of Peter Vermes' mindset -- pushing the pressure, covering the midfield with borderline card-worthy sliding tackles and chasing the ball around like a dog chases a tennis ball. He was a menace and his role on the team was only replaced by Roger Espinoza after Arnaud's hernia surgery.
Of course, Vermes knows Arnaud just as well. Should be an interesting "Who knows each other's weaknesses best?" chess match.
How will Montreal's backline (which, during its last MLS game featured two former KC players: Tyson Wahl at leftback and Shavar Thomas!) handle KC's potent forward line? Containing C.J. Sapong will likely fall to big Italian Matteo Ferrari. But Thomas and Wahl having to cope with Kei Kamara and Graham Zusi is a winnable battle for KC. Also, Bobby Convey should have the advantage over whomever replaces Zarek Valentin -- the Impact's regular right back.
The bye week has given KC's walking wounded a chance to heal up -- Bobby Convey and Julio Cesar (both had leg strains) are off the injury report this week. Only goalkeeper Eric Kronberg (back strain) and Seth Sinovic (broken hand) are listed as out. Reserve fullback Shawn Singh (hamstring strain) is doubtful; centerback Cyprian Hedrick (bilateral Achilles tendonitis) is probable.
For Montreal, defender Zarek Valentin (calf contusion) is out; midfielder Justin Mapp (hamstring strain) is doubtful; defenders Nelson Rivas (hamstring strain) and Glenir Garcia (knee contusion) are probable. Arnaud is also probable with a hamstring strain.
With two weeks to prepare, will Vermes spring a surprise or stick to his guns? I think he sticks to his guns but I wouldn't be surprised if Teal Bunbury gets a run out of some kind. Either that or he's fallen so far that Vermes won't even give him starters minutes in a reserve-league game. (I don't think, despite some people's wishes, that he has fallen to that level. Yet.)
GK: Jimmy Nielsen-c; DEF: Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington; MID: Julio Cesar, Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza; FWD: Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, Bobby Convey
SUBS: Jon Kempin; Lawrence Olum, Korede Aiyegbusi; Paulo Nagamura, Luke Sassano; Jacob Peterson, Teal Bunbury
Montreal aren't without dangerous players -- forwards Lamar Neagle and Bernardo Corradi in particular -- but I don't think they have enough about them quite yet to cause problems for KC. I don't think it will be a wash-out, so I'm sayingKansas City 2, Montreal 0
. I think Kamara and Bunbury score the goals.
Also, Montreal are coming off a slightly listless mid-week draw with Toronto in the Canadian Championships.
Match Day Hype Song
In honor of Cinco de Mayo
"? the Mysterians" were one of the first Latino bands to hit the mainstream -- and also one of the first American "punk" bands. What would it take to get this song to replace one of the "jock jams" or soulless electro songs that currently get rammed down patrons' precious earholes at stadiums around this fair country? This isn't a better song than ANYTHING ever laid down by Shinedown? I mean besides the slightly out-dated organ melody line. It's easily a much better closing song than that Kansas City song they play right now.
Since I spent more than a few token minutes selecting songs this week. Here were the two main runners-up.
Voodoo Glow Skulls "El Coo Coi because, quite simply, it's an awesome song.