Before tonight’s big Concacaf Champions League semifinal match between Monterrey and Sporting Kansas City, our friends from A Blue Testament were nice enough to answer a few questions about their team and how they think the visitors from MLS will do.
Here’s what Cody Bradley had to say about tonight’s match. I also answered some of their questions as well, so check that out as well.
1. How confident are the Sporting KC fans going into this match after soundly beating Toluca and looking very good in early MLS play?
After the huge win over the weekend in league play, fans in KC are flying high. It’s sure to be another fun season. That being said, I think most are topping out at “hopefully optimistic” for this one. If Sporting KC can come out of the first leg within one goal, fans will be VERY happy. The attacking talent that comes from Liga MX is still something most MLS defenders are not used to. It will be a big task in keeping Monterrey in check, but the Sporting KC attack is also red hot at the moment. If keeper Tim Melia can bail out the defense a couple times (as he often does), then this will be an exciting 180 minutes.
2. How much of an impact has Johnny Russell had on the team since his arrival last year?
Johnny F. Russell, as he has come to be known, very quickly became a fan favorite. He’s got a big personality, he’s passionate, and he’s capable of putting the team on his back. The Scotsman is incredibly dangerous if given any space. But you can’t just throw another defender over there because 1v2 and splitting defenders is this guy’s specialty. What has truly made him great for this team is his rapport and the ability to create for teammates.
In his first MLS season he contributed ten goals and ten assists. This team had developed a reputation for struggling with scoring in the years before his arrival. Johnny changed that. He changed that by being a lethal scorer himself as well as setting up everyone around him.
Krisztian Nemeth became the first Hungarian with a hat trick in MLS history, Johnny Russell added two goals and Sporting Kansas City cruised past the Montreal Impact 7-1 on Saturday. #fox4kc https://t.co/pbQ0wEc3vY— FOX 4 Sports (@fox4sports) March 30, 2019
3. I watched a lot of the Sporting KC v Montreal match, and saw Sporting just tear the Montreal defense apart. Was that a fluke or is this team capable of putting up big numbers offensively? Or was it just the case of Montreal being terrible?
Montreal was indeed missing an important defender, as well as a DP midfielder, but this was no fluke. Sporting Kansas City can score goals from almost anywhere. Hungarian striker Krisztian Nemeth is top form, winger Gerso Fernandes has been more dangerous in 2019 than we have ever seen him, and Russell on the other wing always a big threat. But there are goals in all three midfielders as well. Even Graham Zusi at right-back can hurt you!
That being said.. yes Montreal was absolutely terrible.
4. Peter Vermes isn’t exactly a man of mystery when it comes to formation or tactics, although some may argue that his faith in his tactics means that he is getting his players to believe in them as well. How does that translate to the pitch and what kind of tactics should Monterrey fans expect?
Even playing away against perhaps the most talented team they’ve ever faced, Sporting KC are still probably going to try and control possession. I will be very surprised if Vermes changes what has worked for them so far this year. They’re going to move the ball around and wait for an opening to attack. Andreu Fontas, a former Barcelona man, has made this team very successful in building from the backline. But Vermes will desperately want that away goal and they’ll still be a high pressing team. The fullbacks will be flying forward and getting in on the action. They focus on winning the ball back immediately, or fouling if they fail to do so.
5. Predict the score.
I see several goals as both teams have a lot of firepower on the front lines. Sporting KC are going come out of this with a 2-2 draw. Wishful thinking? Absolutely. It’s just more fun that way. But SKC are going into this match believing they are the chosen ones. They’re on a holy mission and will be playing with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.