On Tuesday, the question was posed: ”are Sporting Kansas City the best in MLS?” On Saturday night, we got an emphatic answer to that question, one that no doubt resonates around the league putting 18 other clubs on notice, and the answer that all of Kansas City were surely after.
Yes, at this point in time, Sporting Kansas City are, in fact, the best team in Major League Soccer.
They are the very best by way of a perfect 6-0-0 (18-of-18 points) record, victories over direct competition for the crown of “best”, and an imposition of will upon anyone and everyone laid across the field before them. They, quite simply, have shown to be a class above each and every opponent for six weeks running now.
Peter Vermes’ squad has shown the ability to win games in a multitude of ways; whether it be at their opponent’s pace (much slower and methodical than Sporting prefer), at their own supersonic, frenetic pace that makes the opposition’s head spin, or by spotting you an early lead (the one goal they’ve allowed all season) yet still sending you home just as empty-handed as everyone else. They have shown they can beat you, and they can beat you in whichever way you prefer they do it.
Sporting made their loud and unquestionable claim as “best in MLS” on Saturday night when they welcomed Real Salt Lake – the (1b) to their (1a) – into LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and snatched another 1-0 victory away from the only other team in MLS with 15 points to their name – albeit accrued in one more game than that of Sporting. Long the “model franchise” of MLS for their silky smooth, possession-hogging expertise that just wins games, RSL were simply no match for Sporting for much of the night.
Credit where credit is due, though: Salt Lake are one fine team, and when Javier Morales – RSL’s best player without a single doubt – makes his permanent return to the team after a rash of injuries the last 12 months, they will certainly step back into the ring with Sporting in an attempt to take back that crown. A fairly smart betting man would put a humble amount of American dollars on that event taking place December 1 at either LIVESTRONG Sporting Park or Rio Tinto Stadium – two very potential sites of the 2012 MLS Cup Final.
For the first time in 2012, a team out-passed and out-possessed Sporting KC over a full 90 minutes, (56 percent-to-44, and 425-to-320) but it mattered not. Sporting were much the dominant team all night, and surely the only one that ever felt like winning.
Typically, a great team’s best player is easy to point to and say, “that’s the guy.” Los Angeles Galaxy have Landon Donovan, RSL have Morales, New York Red Bulls have Thierry Henry, Seattle Sounders have Fredy Montero, and right on down the list. Ask a dozen different people the best player on Sporting KC, and you’re likely to get at least a half-dozen different answers. Make it a point to stop Graham Zusi‘s distribution, Roger Espinoza comes forward and sprays the ball around. Double up on CJ Sapong every time he’s on the ball, Kei Kamara exploits the space left open in the center.
There is simply no gameplan currently in existence for derailing this high-powered, very supreme, runaway train that is Sporting Kansas City. DC United, New England Revolution, FC Dallas, Chivas USA, LA Galaxy and now RSL have all given it their best shot, and collectively taken a grand total of zero points off of Sporting KC.
In the grand scheme of a 34-game season, sure, it matters absolutely zero that Saturday’s three points came against “the other best” team in MLS, and more that come the end of the regular season, it’s three more points on top of what is sure to be an already large tally. What it does, though, is it gives this entire Sporting squad – as if they needed it – another level of confidence and self proof that on their day – or perhaps not even on their best day – they can beat you, and they can do it whatever way you want them to. That confidence just might be called upon one more time later in the year, on December 1.
Breathe it all in, folks, for Kansas City really does “have the greatest football team” in all of MLS.