I wasn't planning on going up to Frisco today with work this afternoon, but it was just too perfect not to. With the game not until Sunday this week, it was a pretty spirited practice this morning with the team a bit short-handed. There was absolutely immaculate weather without a cloud in the sky, it really doesn't get much better than watching the team train in 70 degree temperatures while shielding my pale, Scottish skin from the sun.
Notes & Observations
Injury Updates Nothing is official yet, but I'd be shocked if Fabian Castillo is available this weekend. Castillo trained on the side again today, mostly with running and he looks pretty close but not there yet. I noticed in his stretching there is still some visible pain there and he's just not ready to train. Will it be next week or two weeks? Who knows, it's probably up to Castillo.
On the David Ferreira front, he's not training and not really rehabbing much outside either. Some in the media are very worried, I'm not sure what to think. Just wait and see. Scott Sealy still rehabbing but looks close to a return as well.
Leyva on Fire Just from my observations out at practice, I don't see any way that Bryan Leyva can sit on Sunday. It may not be a tactically great matchup with the strength SKC has on the wings, but this kid is playing as well offensively as anyone that will be available. Leyva was particularly impressive during the offensive drills late in the practice where he sent in 2 or 3 absolutely killer crosses headed home by Blas Perez.
It just looks like this taste of the big time has really ignited the 20-year-old and he is playing with the confidence of a guy that knows he will get his shot if he performs. Look out for him on Sunday...
Perea Looking Good Today one of the guys I really wanted to watch was Luis Perea and see how he's been coming along with nearly two weeks under his belt in Frisco. I came away impressed. Perea had a couple goals in the 8v8 scrimmage and watching him play he really does remind you of Blas Perez lite. He's got good ball control in tight quarters and has good vision on his linkup play as well with good finishing skills. There's not a huge burst of speed there that you'd like and he need to get more acclimated and comfortable with his teammates, but that will come with time. I'd be very surprised if he doesn't grab a few goals this year, and could be a huge difference maker late in the season as he gets more comfortable.
Who starts on the opposite wing? As I mentioned earlier, I think Bryan Leyva is playing too well to sit right now, but that still leaves a vacancy on the opposite wing with Carlos Rodriguez also unavailable for this game. That means you could see Jair Benitez there with Pertuz at left back or you could see Benitez at left back with Wiedeman at the other midfield position.
As much as I'd like to see Wiede given a shot, I think it's more likely that you see Benitez's swashbuckling game moved up the pitch for the game in KC. Speaking of Jair, he took a huge tackle from Zach Loyd today, a guy who never gives an inch, and was down for awhile but popped up just fine and seems good to go. It is funny how practices will get more and more intense until someone gets hit hard and everyone kind of stops.
Thoughts on this weekend's first away game of the season
This is a really exciting time for us to measure ourselves against, I think, one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. They're playing awfully well, they've won two games, they're at home, they have a wonderful environment and they're going to be a very good team, it's going to be a very good match for us.
What have you seen out of Sporting Kansas City that could give you problems?
There's quite a few things we're concerned about. One is they've got a good eleven and then they've got good depth coming of the bench. What that does for you, is gives you a chance to work awfully hard knowing that your replacements are going to be coming in with quality. The other thing is they play a 4-3-3 system, they have three very good attacking players. You've got Kamara who is probably one of the best right sided players in the country, Sapong who is playing very well as the #9 and then Bobby Convey who used to play for the US. So there's three very good players.
The three in the midfield, Cesar is a very good defending midfielder, then you have Espinoza, national team player for Honduras and then you have Zusi who, if you remember last year, came in here and scored a couple great goals against us.
Defensively they're solid with fullbacks attacking the goal so I think that top eleven is as good as anybody in the league and they're very athletic, extremely hard working, and a team that's very on a high right now.
You obviously are going into this game a bit short handed, do you look at it as a negative or a positive that you can see what you've got out of some players who may not otherwise get playing time?
I think it's either way you look at it. The negative is that you'd like to go in there with your full team, the positive is that some players are going to get more opportunities. Like Bryan Leyva did the other night, who did himself some favors, he had a good first half and that builds his confidence so there's some positives involved as well, yeah.
You have Brek Shea out with qualifiers but you also have Carlos Rodriguez out which is a big loss. What does it say about his quick progression that he's a guy that's going to be missed?
Yeah, again it just gives us less options and we're going to have to be calling on players that may not be exactly what we're looking for at this point in time. Whether it's their conditioning or their services or their understanding or just experience, how much time they've been playing. Again, when you asked that question is it good or bad, it's good for them.
How is your depth at this point?
I think our depth is being tested. You saw here when we played Portland, we didn't use our three subs because we were already in the situation where we were sure if we wanted to make changes. What makes you feel more comfortable in making changes is that the players are proving it in the reserve games or that they're having great practices. So right now our depth is being tested.
More to come from Leyva and Ugo Ihemelu later...