The Brotherly Game: Many Union fans consider Wednesday's game to be the most important in franchise history. Given Sporting Kansas City's success, is it viewed similarly, or is there a feeling of "Been there, done that?"
The Blue Testament: Everyone is very excited about the chance to win another trophy. These fans want silverware, CCL (more games to watch), glory, and bragging rights. With almost 1,000 strong traveling across the country for a game in the middle of the week, KC is very excited for this!
If there is anything holding it back, it is perhaps a combination of recent form for the last month, and also maybe a little bit of Royals playoff fever. While I think everyone is aware this is not MLS Cup or Supporters' Shield, this is for the glory of the city. People in KC love their home and they love for the rest of the nation to see why they feel way the way they do!
This team and the ownership are something special. And the fans know that. If we can get this Cup... 3 trophies in 4 years are what dynasty's look like. The front office deserves it, coaches deserve it, the players, AND the fans all deserve it. Everyone is very hungry and we are just a short 90 minutes away from bringing home another trophy.
TBG: SKC are stumbling into the final, winning just one of their last eight. What's been plaguing them? Do you think it could impact their performance on Wednesday?
TBT: Obviously, it is hard to pinpoint the problem. If it were that easy, Peter Vermes would have figured it out long before me. It was a combination of several things. Simply a clusterf***.
To be perfectly honest, this team was playing above themselves for a while. With Ike Opara going down early in the season, with rookies being forced to play serious minutes, there have been very big questions for some time. Kevin Ellis is not a real CB, but has played valiantly! As have the rookies. Vermes has played three on the field at the same time, multiple times. And well, it was working.
Tim Melia was a superhero bailing out the defense on a nightly basis. The lack of height and inexperience on the back line was being covered up. But Melia, like real humans, was not going to be able to keep that up. At the same time both Roger Espinoza and Soni Mustivar went down. The two of them are VERY important to the defense and that became especially clear when KC lost them.
On top of normal troubles and injuries there were other factors like players out due to suspensions also. If you asked Peter Vermes and... well me... there have also been terrible, no good, very bad refereeing decisions. Every team deals with that, but some incredibly poor timing on bad calls led to PV getting fined for speaking out against the refs.
So it was several different things that led to the drop off in form. But since then, we have seen this team look like themselves at least. In the game against Dallas we could see the magic was still there. Moreover, having a bunch of backups pull out a result against the Sounders on Sunday should give them a little momentum traveling to Philly for the Cup.
TBG: We know how good Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, and Matt Besler have been for KC, but what other guys could make a difference in the final?
TBT: First one that comes to mind is Krisztian Nemeth. He has been fantastic on the wing for SKC in his first season with the club. He has 13 goals and 7 assists across all competitions. He is very good with his back to goal and can change a game in an instant. If he is confident and in the mood, it is difficult to stop him. However, he has been injured and it is possible he will not be at 100% for this game.
Soni Mustvar is a less 'sexy' pick to watch. He plays the under appreciated role of holding midfield, and has been HUGE for this club. Especially with so much inexperience on the back line. Nobody thought KC could replace Uri Rosell, but Soni is doing a fantastic impression. He isn't going to be a presence in the box and he probably isn't going to score the winning goal. But the ground he covers, the passes he intercepts, and his key tackles, have saved this team time and time again.
Finally, Tim Melia makes a difference almost every game. The club brought in Luis Marin from Chile this offseason to hopefully lock down the job of keeper for the years to come, but that quickly proved to not be working out very well. Enter Tim Melia. The guy was an MLS Pool Goalkeeper last season, but when he was give the chance he never looked back. He is single handedly responsible for several points SKC have won this season. Nobody saw it coming, probably not even him, but he is a VERY important part to this team. I can confidently say that he is going to cause at least one moment of distress for fans of the Union when he robs somebody of a goal.
(4-3-3) Tim Melia, Chance Myers, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Soni Mustivar, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber, Krisztian Nemeth, Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi
Sporting KC 3 - 2 Philadelphia Union