CHESTER, PA - JUNE 22: Davy Arnaud #22 of Sporting Kansas City and Brian Carroll #7 of the Philadelphia Union fight for the ball during at PPL Park on June 22, 2011 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The game ended 0-0. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Justin Mayhugh of The Daily Wiz, SB Nation's Sporting Kansas City blog, and I chatted ahead of Friday's Philadelphia Union-SKC game. Read my responses to Mayhugh's questions by clicking on the linked text here (takes you to The Daily Wiz).
Scott: What is going on with the KC attack nowadays? Seems like it's all over the place in regard to personnel decisions.
Justin: I think Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes has had a hard time deciding who to start at the center forward position in regards to Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong. It seems like that's the position he's had the hardest time making a decision on. Teal shows flashes of brilliance, but he's very inconsistent, while C.J. has been consistent all season, but he perhaps doesn't provide as much potential as a lethal goal scorer. Personally, I think Vermes should start Sapong. At this point his work rate is better, and just overall I feel he has done more for the team.
Scott: Speaking of Sapong, what did you think of his ode to Hope Solo?
Justin: Haha. I thought it was great. I don't think most people would have had the courage to even attempt it, even if it was somewhat of a joke. I think CJ wanted it to come across as a complete joke, but I think he was probably a little serious about it deep down. It's crazy how much attention that video received online. Definitely good press for Sporting Kansas City though.
Scott: He's received plenty of attention for his play this year, as well.
Justin: Very true. I think a lot of people were down on the Sapong pick in the MLS SuperDraft, because Sporting Kansas City already had plenty of forward options, but he's won over the fans. They absolutely love him. I think fans appreciate a player who works like CJ does. Someone who does the little things that don't necessarily show up in the stat box.
Scott: A lot like the Union's Sebastien Le Toux.
Justin: Yes. I have to admit I'm a huge Le Toux fan. I'm always going to be a fan of a player like Sebastien that can not only score, but find teammates as well. If you had to name three players on the Union that you think have been critical to the team's success this year who are the three you go with? I'm sure Le Toux has to be on that list.
Justin: Ah nice! Why did you select each of the three?
Scott: Carroll has been a stalwart in the defensive midfield position, aiding the Union's defensive rebirth this season. Califf and Valdes have proven themselves to be one of the best center back pairings in MLS. Mondragon helped to fix the Union's communication issues within the 18 and tutor future starter Zac MacMath.
Justin: Which brings me to this question; who's the team's MVP in your opinion?
Scott: Tough question to answer. Have to go with Carroll right now, based on consistent performances. Or maybe Sheanon Williams. What about on the KC end of things?
Justin: I've been riding the Graham Zusi for Team MVP for a while now. I just look at the way he's dictated tempo in the middle of the field this season, and how high his work rate has been. He's extremely active all game long. And he has a complete cannon of a right leg. Jimmy Nielsen has been wonderful as well, but I think I give it to Zusi by a hair. With the season coming to a close, how do you feel about Philadelphia's playoff chances, and if they do make the playoffs how far do you think they can go?
Scott: It all depends on the health of Mondragon and which defense shows up. Despite MacMath playing well, it's Mondragon's job. And the defense seems to come and go of late.
Justin: Oh, I meant to ask you about that 4-4 game against New England on September 7th. That was one of the most exciting MLS games I've ever watched. How were you feeling that night, watching the Union down 4-1 at half, only to come back and tie the game in the second half?
Scott: Reminded me of the Arsenal-Liverpool game from 2009 (or so).
Justin: How do you see the game Friday playing out?
Scott: I'm thinking a 2-1 win for the Union. Hot streak for the playoffs, yo.
Justin: I'll go with the same score, but reverse the teams. Definitely exciting in the Eastern Conference. Every match being a must win for so many teams. I think I'm out of question. Do you have any more?
Scott: Predicted line up?
Justin: Ah. I've thought about this quite a bit this week. But I'm going to go with; Nielsen, Harrington, Cesar, Besler, Sinovic, Espinoza, Zusi, Arnaud, Kamara, Bravo, Sapong. Harrington starts at right back due to Chance Myers injury (right foot contusion). I think Vermes will want to go a little more offensive for this match, so I think he goes with Espinoza at the defensive mid position rather than putting Cesar there like he did against Real Salt Lake when he was trying to secure the defense.
And I think Friday will see the return of Davy Arnaud to the starting XI. He played 90 minutes in a reserve team match on Sunday. The only question with Arnaud was his fitness level before that game. I think he starts. Who do you have for Philly?
Scott: Zac MacMath, Gabriel Farfan, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Wlliams, Brian Carroll, Freddy Adu, Zach Pfeffer, Roger Torres, Michael Farfan, Sebastien Le Toux. Same line up as versus the Crew.