The Full 90

The XI: Entering the final stretch

Unless you've been hanging out in a bunker outside of Tripoli, you likely are aware of Sporting Kansas City's rather important 1-0 victory over DC United on Sunday night.

It's been more than 48 hours since the final whistle blew, which means it's time to take a reflexive, emotion-free look back at the game. Here are 11 questions (with answers) about the result.

1. Was it really the most important result of the season?

Yes, undoubtably. At this stage of the season, you can't drop points (at home) to team below you on the table. It can't happen. I don't care so much as the win put KC into 2nd place behind Columbus so much as it puts a five-point cushion between KC and the out-of-the-playoffs zone where DC United currently resides.

There are 9 games left for KC in the regular season. The D.C. game was just the first leg of a 10-match race to the playoffs. Things change quickly in this league. Losses happen. Draws materialize from thin air (which KC knows far too well). You must nail down the points you need to nail down.

Sporting Kansas City did that. As an added bonus, the team showed they learned from the Seattle debacle and effectively closed out the game by playing smart as the clock waned.

2. Who was the man of the match?

Chance Myers or Seth Sinovic? First Team Messiah or Marty?*

*I am officially modifying the Reserve League Jesus nickname bestowed on Myers earlier this year. He's one of the first team's Top 5 players. Marty is apparently Sinovic's nickname, because he sort of looks like Marty McFly.

You could really make a convincing argument for either player. Did D.C. United even have wide players? It was hard to tell as KC's dynamic fullbacks really shut down everything that came down the flanks and helped open up space by charging down the field to join the attack.

Take a look

at the chalkboard for the two players

. They completed 74 passes between them, made 3 interceptions, 6 clearances and 13 recoveries. Without them and their current form, KC isn't in the position it's in.

If I had to pick 'em though, I'd go with Myers. He seemed so disruptive and sturdy, shutting off nearly every move on the right. He was also just inches away from settling the game with a hard-charging run in the second half.

3. Who else was impressive?

I thought the three midfielders -- a makeshift pairing due to injures -- were quite good together. Omar Bravo, Roger Espinoza and Graham Zusi moved around the center of the field presenting DC with a fluid, hard-to-predict midfield. At any time, any of the three could be charging forward or dropping deep to defend.

Bravo was in a roving attacking role just behind the front three, and I thought he did a pretty darned good job. The central position had him involved in the game more than he can be when wide left. He doesn't have Jeferson's eye for the threaded pass, but he is a much more a threat to score from that role than the Brazilian.

Zusi had a Zusi-like game: Lots of hard work, excellent passing, some passable set-piece work and a blistering shot on goal that nearly handcuffed the 'keeper. Espinoza was all over the field tackling, attacking and, surprisingly, not drawing needless cards.

4. So, what happens when Davy Arnaud and Jeferson are fully fit?

Great, great, great question. You have to think that the team captain and the team's second designated player walk back into the starting lineup when healthy. So who moves out? Bravo will likely play in Jeferson's spot until he's fit, then the Mexican will slip back to the left wing. But the current form of Zusi and Espinoza makes for one midfielder too many. (Of course, when Aurelien Collin is back to form, Julio Cesar could slot back into the defensive midfielder gig. That's to say nothing of Craig Rocastle.)

This is what Peter Vermes would probably call a good problem. He has seven players (also counting Milos Stojcev) who can play in the middle. That leads to an enticing and confusing array of choices of whom to play and where.

In my opinion, the 1st-choice midfield trio will be Jeferson-Arnaud-Espinoza when all are healthy, with Zusi playing either a forward role or coming in as an impact substitute. Which is a shame, because I prefer him on set pieces to Jeferson and I think he works harder than just about anyone else in a Sporting kit.

Your guess is as good as mine what happens when Collin and Rocastle return to form.

5. Is CJ Sapong the front-runner for MLS rookie of the year?

It's likely between KC's "man mountain" or DC United

flopper

defender Perry Kitchen. I think Sapong -- with his 25 appearances, 3 goals and 4 assists -- has a slight lead at this point.

Since preseason, it's been obvious to me that most defenders have only one resort when dealing with Sapong -- foul him. Watch him during the next game and see how many times the rookie has his shirt tugged or his arm grabbed. Happens every time.

6. Does anyone else remember when we were talking about Kei Kamara's slump? Or that he could've been trade bait?

The flashy forward seemed a bit gassed after an early June trip to Africa to play for Sierra Leone. The fatigue seemed to last for a few games and, for a bit, cost him his starting job as the right forward.

Between June 4 and July 9, Kamara made just 3 starts (and 5 appearances off the bench) before reclaiming his starting gig against Houston on July 16. Since he's returned, he's bagged four goals (two of them fairly spectacular) and been an absolute joy to watch on the ball.

Of course, he still needs to learn how to reward the fullback run into space at least once this season before I'm sold completely.

7. What did Vermes have to say after the game?

"Every day we grow, it’s a good group of guys they fight for each other. If you can win games 1-0 over time that builds a tremendous amount of confidence and you learn how to do that. That’s how you win championships."

8. What do you make of Vermes waiting until the 73rd minute to go to his bench and then only using 2 subs?

I think that Vermes was either a) satisfied with the team he had on the field and didn't think any of the players on the bench who weren't Birahim Diop and Michael Harrington brought anything else to the table or b) forgot he had three subs to use.

9. Does anyone else miss the dark blue kits?

I know KC loves the light blue look (the color is called "Sporting" after all), but I think the

dark blue jerseys are just much better looking

. Though, perhaps I'm just tired of seeing the same color for three months.

10. Has Livestrong Sporting Park taken a beating or what?

All the games and concerts seem to have caught up with the groundskeeping crew at LSP. The field against D.C. United was coming up in clumps. Players were doing divot-repair work during the game and I once spied Vermes sneaking onto the field to pat down what looked to be a gopher hole.

I personally blame Willie Nelson. He took all the good grass with him.

11. Why oh why do people yell "Home of the Chiefs" at a soccer game?

I don't get it. I've never gotten it. Not even when people shout "PLAY BALL" at the end. It's the national anthem. Sing along. Take your hat off. Let it finish without adding your own words. I won't call it disrespectful or anything, I just think it's sort of tacky.

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