Sporting Kansas City is finally swinging into the pendulum of their 2019 season, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Sporting gusted through the round of sixteen in the CONCACAF Champions League, crushing Toluca 5-0 in aggregate goals, and they made history doing it.
SKC is now the fourth MLS team to reach the CCL quarterfinals and the fifth to win a CCL match in Mexico, as well as being the second MLS team to beat a team in Mexico by multiple goals. On top of all that, Sporting’s five goals was good to give them the largest aggregate win ever by an MLS team over a Liga MX team in any CONCACAF series containing two legs.
So, with such an exciting round of sixteen for Kansas City just preceding their MLS opener on Sunday against LAFC, there is only one natural response: overreacting thoughts and questions by fans and media alike about how the club’s Champions League play will translate to MLS.
I, too, have been eagerly curious about which CONCACAF observations will carry over into the MLS regular season. After a lot of podcast listening, article reading, social media scrolling, and soccer viewing, I feel halfway confident enough to add to the buzz and bring up some of the questions that have sprung from CCL play thus far in relation to the MLS season opener and beginning of a long regular season.
I will also offer my opinion on the truth or falsity of such questions and assumptions but, to be clear, these answers are all just my personal opinion based off of what I’ve seen and heard from SKC and in soccer media today.
Is this going to be SKC’s starting lineup for the MLS Opener?
Probably not. This is probably the current “first team” lineup, but not likely to be the lineup that the club goes with against LAFC.
Team manager Peter Vermes has said much this offseason about the team’s depth and the need for rotation within the squad due to the condensed 2019 schedule. The roster is ridiculously deep, with high-talent players such as Daniel Salloi, Kelyn Rowe, Yohan Croizet, Erik Hurtado, and Rodney Wallace on the bench.
In past years, Vermes has not been known to consistently rotate his players, but he made good use of his substitutes against Toluca. Coming off an away game at 9000 feet altitude and going straight to L.A. for Sunday’s game is the ideal time for Vermes to utilize his roster depth and play fresh legs, so we’ll soon find out if implementing regular squad rotation will be a change that Vermes makes this year.