Sporting Kansas City: 5 Reasons Why They Are Taking MLS by Storm This Season
This headline on an article 12 months ago would have looked incredibly silly and unprofessional, yet here we are five weeks into the MLS season and the title couldn't be more relevant.
Sporting Kansas City is the only MLS club still undefeated in the league and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Playing in front a revived fanbase, Kansas City is one of the toughest teams to earn a point off of as of right now. However, it is not just the enhanced support that is helping the Wiz Kids earn the W week in and week out. Here are five other reasons why SKC is taking the league by storm this season. Enjoy!
Emergence of CJ Sapong
Certainly one of the main reasons for Sporting Kansas City’s dominant last half year is related to the arrival of 2011 Rookie of the Year, CJ Sapong.
Sapong waited his turn to get significant minutes in the first half of his rookie year before breaking out and asserting himself as the premier striking option for Peter Vermes. He is a much more balanced striker than Teal Bunbury and can create many more opportunities for himself and teammates with his dribbling ability.
So far this year he is averaging .76 goals per 90 minutes, each coming with its own unique celebration to hype up the crowd. There is no denying that with Sapong in the lineup, Kansas City is one of the most dangerous teams in the attacking third.
Dominance of Aurelien Collin
After a horrific start to last season, the addition of Aurellien Collin to the backline was greatly welcomed by SKC fans.
However, I doubt many could have predicted the sheer dominant presence he now holds today in front of net for SKC. Collin took no time adapting to the pace and physicality of the league, something most foreign defenders (Such as Markus Holgersson right now) have trouble with early on in their MLS careers.
So far this season SKC has only allowed one goal, and that definitely wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Collin being a rock in the back.
Discovery of Unexpected Treasures
I am still pondering the odds that all of SKC’s faulty puzzle pieces in the past suddenly transformed into solid players at exactly the same time.
Whether it was the emergence of 2009 second-round draft pick Graham Zusi into a US National Team midfielder, or the conveniently late-blooming Chance Myers, who just a couple years ago was being considered one of the biggest busts in MLS history, everything is going right developmentally for the Blues.
Peter Vermes' Tactics
Of course, this team would be competitive even with an incompetent coach, but Peter Vermes’ tactics are really what make SKC as good as it is.
Vermes' ambitious 4-3-3 formation with active wingbacks is perfectly complemented by the strength of the central midfielders and defenders who can break up counter attacks. It was also Vermes’ wing-side switch of Kamara and Convey that led to the opening and vital goal that gave SKC their fifth straight win of the year over Los Angeles.
After the loss of Omar Bravo and Teal Bunbury’s fall in form, it really is incredible that Peter Vermes and his staff put together such an attacking yet stable First XI week in and week out.
Very Favorable Schedule
While SKC deserves a lot of praise for their undefeated start to the 2012 season, let’s not kid ourselves, 5-0-0 was always a probability.
With MLS finally switching to an unbalanced schedule, SKC is living proof that it is better to be lucky than good. Their away victories came at two of the less-raucous stadiums in MLS (RFK and Home Depot for Chivas) and their victories at home have come against New England, a Ferreira and Shea-less FC Dallas, and an exhausted/Beckham-less Galaxy.
Winning five of five is always a tremendous feat, but it is not like Sporting is really raising eyebrows with these victories. Fortunately for SKC, this favorable schedule, for the most part, continues until the MLS playoffs begin.