Sporting Kansas City will have their home opener this Sunday at newly named Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting KC will take on the Vancouver Whitecaps at 7:30 PM CST. While Sporting KC had a great showing against a fellow Western Conference contender in the Seattle Sounders, they will need to be up for the challenge against another heavy weight in the Vancouver Whitecaps. Here is what you should know about the ‘Caps.
There is no shortage of attacking options for the ‘Caps. Vancouver will come out in a 4-2-3-1, with Pedro Morales being the playmaker for them. He struggled last season with injuries, but when he’s healthy he’s extremely dangerous. He’s always keen to find their striker Rivero. Octavio Rivero had 10 goals last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he easily surpasses that number this year. The Uruguayan forward had several opportunities to score this past weekend, but the crossbar wasn’t doing him any favors in their game against the Montreal Impact this past weekend. Their wingers, Christian Bolaños and Cristian Techera, are very dangerous in the attack. Both are quick, tricky with the ball, and always looking to score.
Vancouver also have other options on the bench with the very speedy and young Kekuta Manneh, the always dangerous Blas Perez, and another speedy option in Jamaican international, Darren Mattocks. Needless to say I think SKC will have its hands full in this game. I know Coelho played well against Seattle, but could we see Ike Opara get the nod with how much speed this Vancouver has?
Vancouver center backs will be a tough force. Kendall Waston is a tall and strong force to be reckoned with, and his counterpart Tim Parker is only 23-years-old and received a call up to the January national team camp for the U.S. Parker has descent speed to make up for Waston, who is very slow laterally.
Many SKC fans might remember the clash that Dom Dwyer and Waston got into last year. You can be assured that those feelings haven’t gone away yet. Their left back Jordan Harvey really enjoys going up and joining the attack. At right back they have Fraser Aird who got absolutely taken to school by Ignacio Piatti of the Impact. Piatti is a very skillful player, but I think you would see very similar if a healthy Justin Mapp is ready to play (crossing fingers). Finally in-goal they have David Ousted who was a finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year last season. He let in three goals verse Montreal so it has yet to be seen if he is up to last season’s standards.
Sporting can not give up set pieces in this game. Waston is tremendous in the air and Bolaños gives tremendous service. Don’t believe me? Ask the Montreal Impact who conceded a late goal as Waston towered over their defenders to power the corner past Montreal’s keeper.
Children’s Mercy Park will be rocking this Saturday, and I’m also thoroughly excited to see the tifo that The Cauldron has been working on in the past weeks. I think Sporting could be very capable of getting three points in this game as long as they get some of those injured players back and as long as the defense can do a good job of handling all the speed and creative ability that the Vancouver attack possesses.