KANSAS CITY, KS - SEPTEMBER 05: Midfielder Sean Franklin #5 of the Los Angeles Galaxy scores with a shot on goal against the Sporting Kansas City during the second half on September 5, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Ahead of this weekend's LA Galaxy match against Sporting Kansas City, LAG Confidential exchanged three questions with The Daily Wiz; SB Nation's Sporting Kansas City blog. For my answers, you'll have to head over to The Daily Wiz this evening, but for now were going to see what they have to say about this weekend's Galaxy opponent. A lot riding on this early match, so let's dive right in.
LAG Conf: I got to see Sporting KC for the first time when they played against Chivas, the Goats were able to stall KC offensively playing a five man midfield. Is "clog the midfield" the key against SKC or have you seen the team successfully counter this strategy?
TDW: Honestly I think that wasn't necessarily due to how Chivas' tactics were set up, I like to think it was just due to how Chivas USA have done things thus far into the campaign. Robin Fraser has played with a five man midfield since the beginning of the season I believe and they did what they had done against the previous teams by doing just what you said, clogging the midfield. Last weekend was actually the first time we'd played against a 5 man midfield and it caught SKC a little of guard.
I think next time Peter Vermes and co. will be better prepared to deal with that. I've been saying it for a while now but most of our strength has comes from the wings, especially early on in the season and that's where LA will really have to pressure if they want to neutralize SKC's attack. Also, I just realized that Bruce Arena surely must have been at the Chivas game on Sunday to scout Sporting KC and see where there weaknesses are. But like most teams, Sporting KC plays different at home than they do away so maybe it won't matter what Bruce saw or didn't see.
LAG Conf: Graham Zusi, 7 assists in 32 matches last year. Now he's got an assist in every match so far this year. What has changed about his game and has that been key to SKC's resurgence?
Well personally for me it all falls down to how consistent Graham Zusi and SKC has been playing. Obviously most of the fans around the league know that Sporting has earned a perfect 12 points from 12 points so I'll let the stats do the talking on that note. But another reason Graham's been so good is because he's had so much confidence, you can just see it when he's on the ball how much swagger he has. He's also been getting a lot more balls played in to him from deeper positions than we saw last season at this stage. Peter Vermes touched on it in a press conference the other week when he said that the team is starting to give the ball to the right guys (i.e. Graham Zusi) in the right positions to really get the attack going.
LAG Conf: In the NFL KC's biggest rival is Oakland, in baseball…Anyway, Sporting doesn't have a rivalry cup at the moment, but who would you like to see SKC start one with? What would you call it?
That's something that a lot of the fans have been wanting to have for a long time now. In the early years of the league a lot people were looking at FC Dallas as a candidate to be one of SKC's rivals due to the location of the Texan club. However last year SKC's front office took it upon themselves to try and create a rivalry with the Chicago Fire - something that some fans haven't taken to very well, claiming that a real derby should be made by the players on the pitch, not by the front office on their computers. But regardless I think SKC has done a very good job of trying to get something going between the two Midwestern clubs.
A series of commercial adds on TV last season depicted a Sporting KC player doing some sort of move or a shot while a player in a Chivago Fire jersey (minus the logo and the sponsor part) was never far away in the picture. If you remember last season Sporting KC opened up LSP against Chicago in a 0-0 draw, and there was also a promotional deal that after every Chicago Fire loss Sporting KC fans could print off a coupon and take it to Firehouse Subs and get a free sandwich, let's just say SKC fans devoured a lot of sandwiches last year. As far as this season goes in the way of the Chicago-KC derby however all I can really think of is the new covers at the bottom of urinals that say "Wiz On the Fire" - I thought it was pretty funny.