Friday, August 12, 2011

The Final Push

11 more games. That's all that Sporting Kc have to go before the regular season is over. With the majority of those games being at home Sporting Kc will be eager to earn most of the 33 points that are still up for grab in the remaining games of the season. However that's not to say that this final stretch will be easy. In fact 6 out of the next 11 games are against teams that are above Sporting in terms of points in MLS.

If the season were to end today Sporting Kc would be in the final play-off spot. With everything that's happened in this eventful season I think Sporting would be fairly happy with that. But to be floating in and out of that final play-off spot for the rest of the season  would be very dramatic and i'm fairly certain most fans would have a heart attack.

At the beginning of the season the owners and investors goal was to not be left out of the play-offs for the 3rd year in a row. To obtain that goal Sporting Kc have to do 3 things. Find the right center back pairing, win at home, and improve depth. I'll explain a little bit more about what I mean....

Find The Right Center Back Pairing
Center back pairings have been a problem for KC dating back to the 2010 season when Pablo Escobar and Aaron Hohlbein "graced" Community America Ballpark. And at the beginning of the 2011 season it seemed as if this would yet again plague KC's season. But then after a couple weeks of tinkering Peter Vermes found the perfect pair of center backs. Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler. They compliment(ed) each other so very well and you can easily say they were the reason for Sporting's turn-around. But then Collin fell to injury and won't see the field until late September. Following in Collin's footsteps, newly acquired CB Daneil Cyrus also fell to injury and will miss the rest of the 2011 season. Leaving Sporting with only 3 real center backs, Matt Besler, Julio Cesar, and Shavar Thomas. In that order. If Vermes and co. can figure out which of them can play best together while Collin is recovering then Sporting Kc will have checked off step one of securing a play-off spot.

Win At Home
It's long been said that home advantage in soccer can give the home-side the upper hand. And Sporting Kc have certainly proved that this season. Losing only once at home this season to MLS opposition. And should KC get into the play-offs they will have to continue winning at LSP. What happens on the road happens on the road, plus, 8 of Sporting's next 11 games will be played at home. If they can win most of their next games at home then Sporting Kc will have checked off step two of securing a play-off spot.

Increase Depth
For a team like Sporting Kc and pretty much any other team in MLS their are three ways to increase depth in a squad. The first and easiest step is to simply sign a new player from abroad or from another team. Maybe that means getting someone on loan or trading a player for some draft-picks. The second way to increase roster depth is to sign a player from the youth-system. They don't count against the salary cap, you can mold them into the player you want them to be, and they don't necessarily need to be starting right off the bat. The third way is to teach players how to play new and different positions. Teach them some tactical awareness so they can become the jack-knife that was Jack Jewsbury who could pretty much play anywhere in the midfield. For Sporting Kc the easiest and most do-able ways to increase depth would be to sign a player from the youth squad or teach a player a new position. The next 11 games will be tough on the player's bodies and depth will be very important. If Sporting Kc can increase their depth they will have checked off the 3rd and final step of securing a play-off spot.

If Sporting Kc can follow these 3 steps I can personally guarantee you we will be playing play-off soccer come October and November. Should Sporting fail to complete these 3 simple steps then they could see yet another year without play-offs.

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