Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Not Letting Fatigue Win

Tough schedule not holding them back

Chris Uno Cero
May 21, 2017 - 8:58 pm

Sporting Kansas City has had a pretty damn good month thus far. They’ve accrued 7 points in the month of May, and they still have one more game left to play. They’ve captured the top spot in the Western Conference standings with 22 points and a +7 goal differential. Only Toronto FC has more points (25) or a better goal differential (+9). The only thing that held them back this month has been horrific scheduling.

SKC has a total of 6 matches scheduled for the month of May. In their first 5 matches of the month, they went 2-1-2 (WDL). They dismantled the New York Red Bulls and the Seattle Sounders, and even were the first team to get points in Orlando this year. But they’ve also had disappointing losses to the Loons and Whitecaps on the road that saw them play in a deflated and lethargic way you just don’t generally see from a team with this much talent. Some of it you can chalk up to playing on the road. Some of it you can chalk up to coaching decisions as well. Ike Opara did not play last night in Vancouver. Feilhaber and Jimmy Medranda did not play in the 1st half. All are key to SKC’s success. Let’s not even revisit the coaching debacle in Minnesota a few weeks ago. But one has to look at why these guys are getting rested in these crucial games. The simple answer to that, and the biggest reason to blame for the two losses, is fatigue.

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Sporting plays a high energy style. They attack on both sides of the ball. They’re very aggressive with going after the ball. They are constantly pushing the back line up and forcing the offense to play far away from the goal. They’re physical and not afraid to push guys around to win the ball. On the offensive side, they use their athleticism to press the ball on the front line and attack the goal with speed. Gerso scored his 3 goals last Wednesday in a way that was indefensible. It all just happened so fast that the defense couldn’t even see it coming. That’s how top teams in soccer score their goals. But it’s hard to play that style when your body is still sore from the last game just a few days ago.

MLS needs to find a way to avoid this kind of scheduling for the sake of quality. The NBA is dealing with this issue right now. Top stars are opting to sit out many games in order to avoid fatigue, especially when the postseason happen, as that’s the most important time of the season. Even when teams get there, guys are so fatigued after a long season, that you're seeing tons of blowouts. The average soccer player runs 7-9.5 miles a game, depending on their position. Combine that with tons of physical contact with other players and falls and these guys will get worn down over time. LeBron James is averaging 2.6 miles per game in the NBA playoffs. James Harden averaged 2.18 miles per game in the playoffs before he choked. Take the time to Google search for pictures of the feet of LeBron James or James Harden. Make sure you’re not eating something, it’s gross. Their feet are deformed because of all the mileage they have on them. Now imagine if your job was to not only to run all over a hard field for twice or even three times as much distance as an NBA player does in a game, but also use your feet as a battering ram to push a ball around that field. Sometimes having to kick a ball 30 yds or more down the field with pinpoint accuracy. My feet hurt just thinking about it.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Putting that into perspective really makes what Sporting has done in May even more impressive. If Sporting finishes the month with at least another point, I’d call this month a resounding success. The two losses are not ideal, but considering that it hasn’t really hurt them in the standings, I’d say they aren’t really that important.

What’s important is making sure that they continue to build off their success early on and stay hot. They’ve proven they belong in the title conversation. They’ve proven that they can withstand tough scheduling and a couple road losses. They now need to prove that they won’t flame out like they did after their first 5 game of 2016. This month has done a great job of convincing us that they won’t.


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