KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 17: Coach Peter Vermes of Sporting Kansas City gives instructions to Matt Besler #5 during a match against the San Jose Earthquakes on June 17, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
All good things must come to an end, or in this case, they need to start. Sporting Kansas City's run of form (14 unbeaten) started after the most recent loss to the Seattle Sounders when Jeff Parke won the game in the 93rd minute. On the other side the SporKCs were the team that the Sounders beat to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs in both 2009 and 2010. There's a bit of history here, though without rivalry.
The Rave Green head to LIVESTRONG Park for the first time. The visit during a classic summer heatwave with isolated daytime thunderstorms and a predicted heat index over 100 degrees. Hot, muggy with an energized fanbase the Sounders are road dogs, despite their generally strong road performance. Here's three questions with Andy Edwards who is still podcasting like a madman while tweeting like crazy.
SaH: Can you just chat up LIVESTRONG Park and why it is so awesome? Why is the team playing so well there?
AE: Outside of being just an incredible facility? This may be a cop out answer, but I think this is just a really good team. They looked awful the first three months when they were on the road non-stop, but in reality, they were still right on line with the winning percentage of MLS road teams. The only difference being that they didn't have the home games (where home teams inversely excel) to supplement all the road losses.
Coming home and playing home games has done just that, and with a home record of 4-0-4, they're squarely sitting in the upper half of the Eastern Conference. There may be a certain energy boost about the building, though, as Sporting have rescued three late draws at home in the 89th, 93rd and 90th minutes, all by the score of 1-1. It's been a nice change of pace from the 93rd minute heartbreaker suffered at Seattle back in May, which was the last loss before this 14-game unbeaten streak began.
SaH: Sporting's offense has been amazing, and yet there's very little stability in the attacking players who play. How are they doing it without Teal and Kei being as good as many outsiders expected?
AE: CJ Sapong is very near a lock for Rookie of the Year in the league with the way he has played all season. I strongly believe that it was his play, which really came out of nowhere, that jolted Bunbury and caused the three-month long scoring drought of which he is just now coming out the other side. Probably never in his life has he had someone come from behind him on the depth chart, take his minutes and show him up.
Kamara has also just recently gotten himself playing the way he did in 2010. He struggled early on, but has played very well of late, in another new type of role, once again. He's playing much more as a wide midfielder with lots of defending duties; much more so than in the 4-3-3 Peter Vermes once employed.
Last but not least, Omar Bravo is simply running the show right now. He doesn't quite have the speed to beat defenders one on one wide left where he's been playing, but he does an excellent job of popping up in different places, whether it be over on the right, the center or behind the forward line when leftback Seth Sinovic comes forward. Right now just seems to be a good time for the forward crew for KC, as they're all finally starting to play well at the same time.
SaH: Who is the key on defense now that Aurelien Collin is out?
AE: The partnership that Collin and MLS All-Star Matt Besler was the basis of a 13 game streak that KC allowed one or zero goals in every game. Since Collin went down with a lower back fracture, the buckling is completely under Besler's reign.
And to be fair, he's been stellar all year. Also, the stability of regular starters at left and rightback Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers, respectively, has gone a long way to more smoothly usher new signing and 20-year old Daneil Cyrus into the centerback rotation. Julio Cesar started and played 90 at centerback on Wednesday night, so I pretty much expect it'll be Cyrus against Seattle.
Yes, this is the second week with no return fire. That will start up against soon.