Sporting Kansas City sits in an unsettling position in the tightening Western Conference playoff race, one point shy of the red line.
Much of that can be attributed to its inability to garner consistent results inside Children’s Mercy Park. Among the six teams currently in playoff position, no one has lost more than two home matches. Sporting KC, in seventh place, has dropped four.
That places an increased urgency to pull out victories over the next two weeks, when Sporting KC hosts a pair of home games. The club welcomes a slumping Seattle club to Children’s Mercy Park at 2 p.m. Sunday.
With that in mind, let’s tackle a few questions for The Full 90 mailbag:
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I wrote about this topic Monday, because, let’s face it, asking anyone — “even professional athletes” — to play in a 99-degree heat index for 90 minutes is going to alter the product on the field. How significantly? Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes told me he worries it will offer an unfavorable view of the quality of the league when it’s broadcast on ESPN.
Vermes emphasized the weather will affect both teams equally, but it could be argued Sporting KC will have to make more adjustments. When it is playing at its peak form, Sporting KC is flying around the field, using its high press to put its opponents in uneasy situations.
Really, more than anything, it places more importance on getting the first goal. The team forced to chase an equalizer will quickly be zapped of energy.
Tim Melia hasn’t enjoyed the same success he had last year, but how far off is he really? His goals against per game has actually improved this year (1.14 in 2016; 1.22 in 2015).
But his save percentage has decreased three points and his highlight reel is certainly a little thinner. He’s playing behind a back line that has allowed the fewest shots in MLS, which has helped to keep his GAA low.
But none of that answers your question yet, and none of it necessarily applies to your question, either.
Here’s the deal: Regardless of the season Melia is producing, the club would seek quality competition for his spot. Look no further than Matt Besler, the Sporting KC captain who has been benched this month after returning from the U.S. men’s national team.
It’s an understood certainty within the Sporting KC locker room that no starting job is safe. Vermes is a strong believer that making players feel that way keeps them hungry and keeps them playing at top form.
So, back to your question: There’s no long-term plan to keep Melia a goalkeeper for a number of years. His play will dictate that decision on a weekly, monthly and seasonal basis.
Most of your questions this week were some variation of the one Michael offered. The summer transfer window closes on Aug. 3, and last week I wrote that Sporting KC would like to add a winger and/or an attacking midfielder before it closes. The club is not seeking a striker after extending Diego Rubio’s loan through the remainder of the season.
On Friday, Vermes didn’t seem all too optimistic when asked about the transfer window. While the team is still looking at several avenues for making additions to its roster, none of them should be classified as close to coming to fruition.
No. With the number of season-ticket holders, it’s nearly a guarantee that every game will sell out this season.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for your questions.