I feel like I've read that book before: Sporting Kansas City plays a sometimes decent but never great game against a team that nips a (deserved) goal and then bunkers to beat Sporting; a game where Sporting never really quite find their rhythm but often seemed about to find a goal--only they never did. I've seen that basic outline more than once, and I've never enjoyed the read. That's repeatedly happened against the Houston Dynamo in the playoffs--back in the days when the Dynamo were well-coached..
Well, if last night's San Jose Earthquakes looked a lot like the 2011 Houston Dynamo, that's no coincidence, because both are Dominic Kinnear coached teams. Kinnear pretty much wrote the book on how to beat Peter Vermes' system. During his time in Houston, Kinnear was Vermes' kryptonite for a few seasons. When Sporting finally beat the Dynamo in the 2013 playoffs enroute to the MLS Cup, I gleefully bought tickets to the Final and fully expected a win. By beating Kinnear's team we had already made it past what had always been our toughest competition in the past, so how tough could RSL be?
Based on two matches so far this season, it looks like Vermes' nemesis is back to full strength. Kinnear needed about half a season--say, until his Earthquakes came to Sporting Park--to figure out his new team. It sure looks like he's figured them out now, though. His bunker-and-counter style wasn't fun for a Sporting fan to watch, but it was well executed and thoroughly devastating. I don't think Kinnear's Earthquakes are a threat to go far in the playoffs, should they make them, but I definitely think they're a threat to eliminate Sporting Kansas City, should the two teams meet.
Losing sucks, and last night's loss wasn't even very entertaining, but we still need a single point out of two home games to at least make the playoffs. Let's hope we get a point or three or six and slip in. Let's hope we get some guys (including Besler and Sinovic now) healthy for a playoff run. And let's hope the playoff run doesn't include the San Jose Earthquakes.