Sporting KC: Momentum continues as big match looms

Sporting KC. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Sporting KC. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Sporting KC appears to have really found its groove in recent weeks. They will need that momentum to continue as they face Houston in their next US Open Cup match.

There may not be a team playing better soccer right now than Sporting KC. The team hasn’t lost a match since May, and have played some of their best matches recently. Last night’s victory against a talented LA Galaxy squad was another big win. As it stands, SKC is firmly in first place in the MLS Western Conference.

This has all built up a certain amount of momentum for Sporting. That’s good news because they will need that to continue as they get ready for the next round of the US Open Cup. Sporting KC has drawn the Houston Dynamo for their next opponent in the Cup. Houston, of course, currently sits in second place in the Western Conference.

It is a big match for Sporting KC, who has very high aspirations of getting back to the top of the MLS. Winning the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup would be a very nice feather in the cap for the team. However, that is going to require them to continue playing at a very high level.

Ike Opara On Fire

Over the past few matches, Sporting KC has gotten some surprising efforts on offense. One of those has been from defender Ike Opara who has scored a pair of impressive goals. After heading in a beautiful ball in the US Open Cup opener, Opara played a perfect bicycle kick into the back of the net last night.

Teams expect Sporting KC to attack with Dom Dwyer and Gerso Fernandes, with bits of other players thrown in. However, when defenders come up and show an incredible ability to score goals, that is a very different wrinkle.

On the backside, Ike Opara continues to be a terror in the defense. Opara’s impressive size gives him a distinct advantage on any ball played in from a distance. He’s been a huge help to Tim Melia in the box. At the same time, he’s giving the Sporting KC an offensive “x-factor”.

Still Need More Scoring

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While Ike Opara’s goals have been impressive, there is still a bit of a cloud hanging over Sporting KC on the offensive end. The team still struggles to consistently score. With 22 goals in 18 games, SKC sits in the bottom half of the league in goals scored.

One of the biggest issues may be a surprising one. For whatever reason, Dom Dwyer is not providing the offensive lift that was expected. With just five goals on the year so far, Dwyer doesn’t even lead the team.

Unfortunately, that is something that is echoed around the roster. With the exception of Dom Dwyer and Gerso Fernandes, nobody on the Sporting roster has more than two goals scored this year. That is something that needs to change if Sporting KC wants to make a serious postseason run.

However, the defense is keeping Sporting KC very much alive this year. That is a quality asset to have as the year goes on. Hopefully the offensive side of things can pick up. If it does, then Sporting KC will be a very tough team to knock out when the postseason gets here.

There is a lot to be excited about for Sporting KC this year. The team is playing some excellent soccer right now, and racking up the wins. If they can keep this momentum going, there is no reason to think SKC won’t compete for the league championship. In the meantime, they have the US Open Cup to play for.