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Opposite View: Three Questions with the Blue Testament

This week we talk with Ben Gartland of the Blue Testament, SBN's Sporting Kansas City blog, about the Union's last home match of the year.

What do you mean the bar is closed?!
What do you mean the bar is closed?!
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

tBG) Sporting Kansas City has sputtered a bit heading into the playoffs, losing soundly to New England twice and D.C. United once. What went wrong there, an what's been done since to fix the issues?

tBT) A lot of it has been the defense has not been as consistent as it once was. Some of this can be attributed to exhaustion, given that two of the stalwarts of the defense have had about three weeks total off of soccer since MLS Cup 2013. Besler and Sinovic were both called into January USMNT camp and have been playing ever since, leading to exhaustion, injuries and poor defensive play. Losing Chance Myers for the year has been a big blow and, even though Igor Juliao has been improving on the right side throughout the year, he’s not the defender Myers is. The offense has been fine with normal production over the past few weeks, it’s just that the production they’re giving used to be enough to win and now it isn’t. I’m not worried long term as long as the players get some rest this offseason but I am worried going into the playoffs since there really isn’t much they can do.

tBG) With the Philadelphia Union being eliminated from playoff contention last week, do you think there's a chance SKC may overlook them and look to the match against the New York Red Bulls?

tBT) I don’t think so. There’s still a very small chance Sporting KC can take the Eastern Conference top seed and a CCL spot but, more importantly, the two seed is still up for grabs. The difference in being home for the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals and going on the road can be huge, especially looking at the 2013 playoffs for evidence. Sporting also wants to avoid the play-in game between the four and the five seeds so they’ll be looking to pick up as many points as possible. Philadelphia has had Sporting’s number this year, which is another reason why I don’t think Sporting will blow this game off.

tBG) Between 2004 and 2011, SKC had a rough run, failing to qualify for the playoffs. What was done to turn the franchise from what it was to what it is? Was the rebranding that critical of an element, or were the pieces starting to fall into place as the Wiz?

tBT) It all started when OnGoal took over ownership from the Hunt family in 2005. Once relocation rumors were able to stop, they started to build the club from the ground up, drafting strong players and putting an emphasis on building the academy and the youth system. Once they had the pieces in place of Matt Besler, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara and Graham Zusi, they were able to spend some money and build the team around the core players, bringing in Aurelien Collin, Jimmy Nielsen, Benny Feilhaber etc…The rebranding brought a whole new energy to the club, expanding the fan base and completely changing the face of the team. So the pieces were starting to be put in place but the rebrand can be looked at the turning point since it coincided with the team finally having success.

Predicted lineup: Eric Kronberg; Igor Juliao, Aurelien Collin, Lawrence Olum, Seth Sinovic; Jorge Claros, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber; Antonio Dovale, Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi.

Predicted score: 1-1 Draw.