By DANIEL BETTRIDGE
VANCOUVER, BC – After Wednesday’s Amway action, it’s back to day job for Carl Robinson’s ‘Caps as they visit Sporting Kansas City in a Western Conference showdown at Sporting Park.
KICKOFF: 6 p.m. PT TV: TSN2 RADIO: TSN 1410
Here are three storylines to get you set for the match.
OUT FOR REVENGE
This is Sporting Kansas City’s first season in the Western Conference, but there’s already no love lost between these two MLS heavyweights. That was evident to anyone who watched the corresponding fixture between these two teams back on July 12, when Kevin Ellis’ second half goal sealed three points for the visitors during a spirited encounter at BC Place.
With individual battles breaking out all over the pitch, it was clear that these two teams were sizing each other up as possible post-season contenders. That competitive streak was characterized by Kendall Waston and Dom Dwyer, who fought tooth and nail for their sides all afternoon.
“It was just football,” Waston told reporters after the match. “It was a normal battle. It was good because he fights for his team and I fight for mine. At the end of the game, we shook hands and everything stayed on the pitch.”
With both teams locked in a battle for post-season honours, you can expect that ‘fight’ to continue into Saturday’s match when both teams will be looking to seal three points at Sporting Park.
QUEST FOR THE WEST
Every week feels like a Cup Final for Robinson’s side as they continue their quest to be the best in a Western Conference that’s stacked full of star-studded teams. This Saturday will be no different, as the team get ready to face off against a Sporting Kansas City team who are creeping up the conference standings.
SKC currently sit fourth in the West, a full five points behind the pace-setting ‘Caps. However, with three matches in hand over the Blue and White, the former MLS champs are every inch the dark horse and a real contender for conference glory.
Add to that the fact that Peter Vermes’ team are unbeaten at home during 2015, and the scale of the task for Robbo’s boys on Saturday starts to become apparent.
“It’s going to be a very very difficult game for us,” the boss told the media via conference call on Friday. “We know that they’re unbeaten at home, but we went in to LA when they were unbeaten and we managed to get a result there. So if we’re organized and disciplined we know we’ve got little opportunities to maybe nick a goal here or there.”
THE SKC MODEL
Speaking to the media on Friday morning, Robinson was asked about the team he’s building here in Vancouver.
“The philosophy of the club was always to find talented young players, develop and coach young players and that hasn’t changed,” Robinson told reporters. “What we’re doing is very special because we’re trying to build something and we’re doing it in different ways from other teams. We’re building youth, we’re integrating youth and we’re giving youth an opportunity while picking up results along the way.”
The ‘Caps need only look at their hosts this Saturday for evidence of where the approach might lead them. Sporting Kansas City are one of the Major League Soccer’s success stories. Unlike other clubs, the 2013 champs haven’t built their team around glitzy star signings; instead, they’ve put their faith in a young manager with a vision to build the club from the ground up.
“It’s the perfect example for me and Vancouver that you can find success as long as you get a little bit of time,” Robbinson said. “Peter [Vermes] has been given that time and he’s done a fantastic job.”
No doubt Robbo’s opposite number will be singing from a similar song sheet and it will be interesting to see which of the league’s forward-thinkers comes out on top when the referee blows his final whistle on Saturday.”