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Know Your Enemy: Three questions with The Blue Testament

Today, the beloved men in orange take on the hated boys in blue. Sporting Kansas City come to town to face Houston Dynamo, and ahead of the match we sat down with Ben Gartland of The Blue Testament for some questions.

Know the Enemy: Sporting Kansas City come to town today with a smattering of injuries, suspensions and national team call-ups. Can Houston Dynamo seize the opportunity?
Know the Enemy: Sporting Kansas City come to town today with a smattering of injuries, suspensions and national team call-ups. Can Houston Dynamo seize the opportunity?
Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports

Dynamo Theory: Sporting Kansas City have been winless in 5 straight matches. This marks the first match in a month they have more than 5 days rest between matches. Do those two correlate or is there something else at play here for KC?

Ben Gartland: A lot of it has to do with the defensive issues Sporting Kansas City has been having. When a team has a 17 year old making his MLS debut as the centerpiece in a 3-5-2 formation, there’s bound to be some mistakes. Sporting Kansas City has had to really dig deep on their depth chart just to put warm bodies on the pitch and the usual defensive prowess has been much weaker of the past few weeks. They haven’t had as many problems scoring in the past couple of weeks and have actually done well with possession but when they make a mistake and a forward like Mike Magee or Jermaine Defoe gets behind the line, it’s bad news for Sporting KC. With Lawrence Olum back for this match, Sporting KC will have some semblance of a back line.

DT: How does the transfer of Oriol Rosell affect the team ahead of the match on Friday against the Houston Dynamo in Houston?

BG: We were already counting him out because of his injury, then it came out that he was being transferred to Sporting Lisbon and we had to change our focus with him being out long-term instead of short-term. Since he is out for this match, it might force Sporting KC to make a formation change like they did against Chicago due to lack of defensive personnel. If Rosell had been here, he would be able to play in the midfield and Lawrence Olum would be able to move to center back. Without Rosell, Olum is going to have to step in for him or he will play center back without any defensive subs behind him. We played without both for the past few weeks, so it is possible. However, I’d rather PV go with a 3-5-2 so that Olum can play in the midfield and so that he can move back to defense if (when) our defenders get injured.

DT: What about the absences of Graham Zusi and Matt Besler who both find themselves in contention for starting minutes for the US Men's National Team in the World Cup in Brazil?

BG: Besler’s absence has hit Sporting Kansas City harder simply because of all of our injury problems. They go from having Besler and Collin anchoring the back line to losing their top four center backs in a span of one game, leading to one of the worst months in recent Sporting Kansas City history. With Graham Zusi, the attack has certainly lost a step but it is not as dire as the defensive situation. Toni has been a great addition to Sporting Kansas City, bringing a very creative force to the wing in Zusi’s absence. When Zusi returns, he’ll probably retain his starting spot and Zusi will likely take the other side. It’s hard to judge how much of an impact their absences have brought since there’s been so many other issues on the team but the club certainly hasn’t looked the same since they left for camp.

Lineup: (3-5-2)

Eric Kronberg; Kevin Ellis, Erik Palmer-Brown, Seth Sinovic; Toni Dovale, Paulo Nagamura, Lawrence Olum, Benny Feilhaber, Jacob Peterson; Claudio Bieler, Dom Dwyer.

Scoreline: 1-1

For Ben's questions for me as well as my answers, head over to The Blue Testament (if you dare) and make sure to say hi. They're actually a wonderful group of people, even if they support the enemy.