Sporting checkup: Two months does not a season make for KC
05/03/2013 11:03 AM
05/20/2014 10:43 AM
This has been a strange start for KC. It wasn't a scorched earth road-trip from hell like in 2011 (1-6-2 over the first nine matches) or a destroy-all-comers and grind out quality wins like last year (7-2-0 to start the season).
Instead, SKC have looked great (2-0 vs. Montreal), lethal (the 2nd half of the 3-1 win in Philadelphia), resilient (1-0 vs. D.C. United), toothless (0-0 vs. Chicago), disinterested (0-0 in New England), exposed (2-0 in Los Angeles), tough (1-0 in New York), slow (3-2 vs. Portland) and overmatched (2-1 in Toronto).
But the big takeaway? It's early. There have been positives, negatives and a lot to chew on as KC hits the second phase of the season. There are 6 months and 25 matches remaining. That's a lot of soccer still to go.
The season doesn't exactly break down into "quarters," but it does break evenly into two-month increments. Today, we'll get you caught up on the team's current form, give you some perspective, address some issues, make a few predictions and generally assess the direction Sporting Kansas City is heading.
A little perspective
While the club didn't get off to the same fiery start as last season and the last two games have been a bit disappointing, things are roughy progressing on track for Peter Vermes and Company. If the goal is to make the playoffs.
Kansas City is 4-3-2 with 14 points. Only two teams (Montreal and Dallas) have won more games than Kansas City. And SKC has more points than every Western Conference team except Dallas (20) and Los Angeles (14).
The club's average of 1.56 points per game puts them on pace for 53 points this season -- which would be two more points than they earned in 2011 when they won the Eastern Conference. (See, perspective.)
Furthermore, Kansas City currently has more points and a better points/game average through April than the two MLS Cup teams from 2012. Both were almost perfectly mediocre at this point. Los Angeles were 3-3-1 (10 points and 1.42 points/game) and Houston were 2-2-2 (8 points and 1.33 points/game).
Comparing them again to the teams KC are chasing: Through 9 games, Los Angeles dropped five of its first 9 games (3-5-1) while Houston was perfectly average with 3 wins/losses/draws.
So, KC are currently off its own pace from last year (when it faltered in the first round of the MLS playoffs) and slightly above the two teams who made the MLS Cup.
History has shown that just making the playoffs is all that matters -- and, like I said, KC is well on their to achieving that goal.
The bad news?
In the East, only New York (10) has played more games than Kansas City. Montreal, who sit atop the table with 16 points, already have two games in hand on Sporting KC.
What's more? May has historically been Peter Vermes' worst month as manager. Since taking over full time in 2009, Kansas City have won just twice in the month of May. Twice -- both of them "shockers." In 2009, the Wizards somehow picked up a 2-0 away win at Real Salt Lake and last year KC got the better of eventual Supporter's Shield winners San Jose.
Kansas City has a beefy May schedule looming: 5 matches -- including two against Eastern Conference rivals Houston. (The Chivas and Seattle matches just 3 days apart at Sporting Park won't be gimmies.)
Oh, and the congestion of summer -- Open Cup games, CONCACAF Champions League -- is still looming.
• Chance Myers getting a brace against Portland.
Here's the tale of Chance Myers in a single paragraph: Surprise No. 1 draft pick, spends two years injured, gets dubbed a "flop," losses his starting position after another injury, tears up the reserves (earning a bit of good-natured mocking from yours truly -- I seriously have always liked the guy and the way he plays), snags an unexpected hat trick in a U.S. Open Cup game, gets to start as the right back, becomes the starting right back for the MLS's best defense, his coach gives him backing to "attack" whenever he wants and, finally, after five seasons, scores his first goal. Then follows up that first goal with his second goal in the same game.