As the Wizards transformed into the a new sleek Sporting KC tuxedo, so have our colleagues over at the Daily Wiz. The Blue Testament is the new home for all things SKC on SB Nation. Lucky for us, Ben had some time this week to talk about the upcoming match. Here are my questions:
1) We saw Vermes rest 4 starters on opening weekend. How is the mid-week match against Cruz Azul going to impact the lineup against FC Dallas this weekend - especially with the rematch in Mexico coming next week?
I would not be surprised to see a lineup against FC Dallas that features many reserves. I would even go as far to say that the majority of the players will be reserves. The preseason cannot give an accurate game day stamina check and the players. naturally, run out of steam earlier in the game. This, coupled with the fact that Sporting KC will have to travel a long ways and play at a high altitude in Mexico City, leads me to believe that players like Zusi, Besler, Feilhaber, Collin and Rosell will see limited, if any minutes against FC Dallas.
2) How has the locker room taken to a new season without recently-retired stalwart, Jimmy Nielsen? Who is the new #1 goalkeeper?
I'd say the locker room has adjusted rather well. Matt Besler became the new captain and the team seems to have taken to him well. As for in goal, Eric Kronberg is now the new #1 keeper. Kronberg has been with the team for eight seasons and has been an excellent #2 for all of those years. He was named the number one keeper earlier this offseason and has certainly earned his spot. He knows the team well, is extremely tall and athletic and has performed decently for the most part in his first two games as starter.
3) It seems the SKC roster has maintained the same core of guys from last year's championship team. However, Sporting will have a full plate in 2014 with CCL, US Open Cup, and MLS all taking place during a World Cup year in which SKC will likely be sending boys to Brazil. What are your predictions for how SKC will navigate the busy season?
It's all about prioritizing. The first couple months of the season will be dedicated to the Champions League so as long as Sporting KC is still in the tournament the regular season is going to take a backseat. Once the tournament is over, the regular season and chasing the Supporters Shield and a playoff spot will become the main priority. The US Open Cup likely won't feature any starters unless Sporting KC reaches the semifinals or finals. After the US Open Cup, there's the 2014-2015 Champions League that will likely feature a mix of starters and reserves to try and get a good seed in the knockout stage.
The good news for Sporting KC is that they have the depth necessary to do well in all of these competitions. Even if Besler, Zusi and Feilhaber all get called up for the USMNT, they have the personnel available to do a competent job in their place. I'm not worried at all about Sporting KC's chances to succeed this year.
BONUS) Predicted Lineup:
Kronberg; Ellis, Opara, Collin, Sinovic, Olum, Nagamura, Feilhaber, Zizzo, Dwyer, Sapong
Thanks again to Ben at The Blue Testament for answering my questions. I hope they give you a bit of insight into this weekend's opponent. Drop us a comment if you can. What other questions would you have for SKC? What kind of a chance does FC Dallas stand against the defending MLS Cup Champions?
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