While there are many benefits of having four All-Stars on the Sporting Kansas City roster, the one downside is how their absence this week could affect the team’s momentum going into Sunday’s match.
The team carries a five-game road winning streak to BC Place where it will face the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at 7 p.m.
“Especially when four-year players are gone, it makes preparation very difficult for the upcoming opponent from a training point of view,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “You can spend Friday and Saturday talking about the team tactically, but you really don’t have much time to work because you’re tapering down.”
Sporting KC is no stranger to this struggle, however, since the team has consistently been navigating through a sting of injuries and multiple call-ups that has left a depleted roster and led in part to the team not repeated a starting 11 lineup so far.
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“The lack of continuity is probably the thing that I would say is the biggest deficiency we’ve had all season,” Vermes said. “When you’re trying to establish your team, it’s one thing to have a style of play and all those other things, but you’re also trying to establish a set group of guys and what they get is also an instinctive relationship on the field.”
Even without the luxury of consistency, Sporting Kansas City has not lost in league play since May 31, a span of eight games.
Most recently, the team played the Philadelphia Union to a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park on Aug. 1. Graham Zusi gave Sporting KC the lead in the 53rd minute, but the Union found a late equalizer. It was the second draw in the last eight games for Sporting KC.
Vancouver is coming off its fourth consecutive tie after playing the Chicago Fire last Wednesday. The Whitecaps rank second in the league with 11 draws this season, trailing only Chicago, which has 13. It was the team’s third scoreless draw of the league season.
“They’ve got some dangerous pieces on that team and they have proven that they can win at home,” Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber said. “Offensively we’ve got to go out and play our game and not sit back which I don’t think anyone expects us to. In the games that we’ve played away we’ve tried to go for a result so it should be a good game.”
Although Vancouver has played Sporting KC to a draw twice, the Whitecaps are still winless in four matches. On July 3, the teams played to a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park.
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Sporting KC AT Vancouver
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Sunday at BC Place in Vancouver
TV/RADIO: KMCI (Ch. 38), WHB (810 AM), La Gran D (1340 AM)
ABOUT SPORTING KC (11-5-6): Now that its four All-Stars have returned, Sporting KC will try to extend an eight-game undefeated streak, which includes five consecutive victories on the road. The team’s success away from home has helped it rise to the top of both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.
ABOUT VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (6-4-11): The Whitecaps, who are sixth in the Western Conference, have played to draws in the last four games. Their last match was their third scoreless draw this season.
BOTTOM LINE: FC Kansas City is undefeated in four games all-time against Vancouver with two victories and two draws.
PREDICTION: Sporting KC 1, Vancouver FC 1