By Nate Bukaty
Sporting Kansas City look to snap a six-match winless streak, as they visit the first place Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night. Pregame coverage begins on 38 The Spot at 7:00, with game action on 38 the Spot and ESPN Radio 99.3FM starting at 7:30. The Rapids have won three straight games in this series, and Sporting Kansas City will be anxious to reverse that trend. Here are three keys to getting three points for Sporting.
1) Reverse the Reversal: On the morning of April 13, Sporting KC sat atop the Supporters’ Shield standings, while the Colorado Rapids found themselves in sixth place in the Western Conference. That evening, the Rapids came to Children’s Mercy Park and stole three points from their rivals. That match started an almost complete reversal in fortunes for the two teams. Since that night, Sporting have failed to win a match, suffering three more losses and settling for two draws along the way. Conversely, the Rapids have not lost since visiting Kansas City, winning three matches, while drawing one more. In less than a month since their last meeting, Kansas City and Colorado have swapped places in the standings, with the Rapids now leading the Supporters’ Shield race, and Sporting occupying sixth place in the West. The moral to this story is that things can change quickly in the Wild West of MLS, and Sporting Kansas City are hoping that Wednesday night’s match will spark a reversal of fortune the likes of which we saw on April 13.
2) Play every roll of the ball: This is a phrase that is repeatedly used by Peter Vermes, but it’s something that his players simply did not do on Saturday in Houston. Vermes was openly upset about his team’s intensity in the 2-0 loss to the Dynamo, and he hinted to some possible lineup changes going forward. On Monday, I asked Vermes what impresses him the most about Wednesday’s opponent, the Colorado Rapids. “They play every roll of the ball,” was his answer. Anyone who’s spent much time around Vermes knows that was a not-too-subtle jab at his own team. Something tells me the players will have gotten the message. We’ll find out on Wednesday night.
3) Turn possession into production: Sporting Kansas City have possessed the ball for 54.9% of their matches, which ranks 2nd best in in MLS. The problem is, they are not turning that possession into a final product. Sporting are tied for last in the league in scoring just 1 goal per 90 minutes. As a result, we’re starting to see a trend where opponents are willing to sit back and let Sporting have the ball. The mindset of these teams seems to be: “as long as we keep numbers back, and stay organized defensively, Sporting will not be able to break us down.” To this point, that approach has worked. So it’s up to Sporting to find a way to start putting more of their shots on target (just 6 of their last 44 shots have been on frame) and to create some better chances.
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