Nashville SC

Down the Touchline: Sporting KC Q&A with Daniel Sperry

Weird Peter Vermes photo from file

What’s going on with Sporting Kansas City? Let’s go to the KC Star‘s Daniel Sperry for the intel ahead of tomorrow evening’s game.

Tim Sullivan: SKC is off to an uncharacteristically bad start. What’s the main reason that the team is struggling at this stage?

Daniel Sperry: Injuries are the easiest way to go. Key pieces that by now would’ve had 3-4 games under their belt together and would’ve ideally been getting synced together over the last six games are almost back to square one of opening week. Uri Rosell missed four matches, Shelton missed three, Salloi missed two and Johnny Russell missed one. All of those injuries along with the two big name injuries have forced players to play out of position, or forced newcomers to play key roles while missing most, if not all of preseason. It’s match day seven for SKC, and it maybe feels really like they’re on match day three in terms of health and minutes played with their full first choice group.

TS: With Alan Pulido out for the year and Gadi Kinda out at least for a few more weeks, who has stepped up and taken the mantle on the attack?

DS: At the moment nobody, and that’s the main problem. Sporting have only allowed 4 goals in their last three games, but they’ve only scored twice. They desperately need someone to step up. My money is on Johnny Russell being that guy. Small shout for the future emergence of Marinos Tzionis. Their U-22 initiative signing this offseason is incredibly talented and looks close to putting it all together. The question for him is where he plays, but that’s a good problem to have.

TS: It does seem like the defensive corps has been reasonably strong, all things considered. What’s helped that group find some success?

DS: The health of Nicholas Isimat-Mirin! He’s a dominant, shut-down type defender and he was not nearly healthy enough last year. Sporting’s best runs of form in 2021 came during his health. He’s a great aerial defender, great 1v1 defender, decent speed, a good passer and has a competitive edge that isn’t surpassed on this squad. He is the perfect complement to Fontas on the back line. Vermes even at one point believes he has Defender of the Year talent.

TS: …meanwhile, it seems like Tim Melia’s multi-year slide continues. Is there still hope that he snaps back into it, or is the franchise resigned to never seeing the 2018 version of him again?

DS: I actually think Tim had about a two game stretch that was rough, and then followed it up with two stellar back to back performances. He’s shown he can snap back into it, but even if he isn’t as good as he was from 2016-2019, he’s still better than most.

TS: Any specific predictions for the game?

DS: I think Sporting takes this one 2-1. There is a greater sense of urgency from them this week, and at some point something has to give. They’re too talented a team to keep their form as bad as it has been to start, regardless of the reason. Time to get back on track and do it at home.

Many thanks to Daniel for the information. Check him out in the KC Star and on Twitter at SperryDaniel94.

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