VANCOUVER, BC – You’re forgiven if you aren’t as familiar with Sporting Kansas City are you are with other teams in the Western Conference.
After all, this is SKC’s first year in the West. Prior to getting moved over, Vancouver Whitecaps FC only faced them once a season.
So what is this team all about?
Let’s take a look.
Head coach Peter Vermes experimented with a few different formations earlier this season, but he appears to have reverted back to his tried-and-tested 4-3-3.
If you look at the average player positions (see below), the front three line up pretty much as you’d expect. Dom Dwyer tends to play the highest up the pitch as a centre forward, while the wingers sit a bit deeper.
It gets a bit more interesting with the midfield three, who essentially line up in an inverted triangle with Soni Mustivar shielding the back line in a holding position. So in a sense, you could actually call this formation more of a 4-1-2-3.
The fact that SKC essentially play with three strikers, and have two attacking-minded players behind them, make them an extremly difficult team to defend. More on that below.
When David Ousted referred to SKC as one of the top teams in the Western Conference earlier this week, he wasn’t kidding. Vermes' side are averaging a league-high 1.69 points per game and have lost just three of 16 matches this season.
A big part of that success has been their dynamic attack.
SKC’s 1.56 goals per game top MLS. Krisztian Nemeth leads the way with seven goals, followed by Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber with five.
Interestingly, SKC are near the bottom of the table in terms of attempted and successful crosses, but still lead MLS with eight headed goals.
THE BENNY FEILHABER SHOW
The SKC player to watch is no doubt Feilhaber – especially with fellow attacking threat Graham Zusi away with the U.S. at the Gold Cup. These two players make this team tick. Case in point: one of the two have contributed to over 40 per cent of the team’s chances this season.
But with Zusi gone, it’s going to be the Feilhaber show. The Brazil-born American midfielder leads SKC in chances created (37), successful passes (582), touches (1,046) and is second in MLS with nine assists.
That speaks for itself.
The graphic below shows where Feilhaber has created his chances from this season. As you can see, he's most dangerous centrally and on the right flank.
Suffice to say, limiting Feilhaber's impact on the game will go a long way in getting a result on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PT at BC Place and tickets are still available.
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