The good news about Sporting Kansas City losing in Orlando is that there is no good news. There aren't any bright lights or good signs to that one. There are no excuses. There is no good news, so there's nothing for this team to do but get better. Or not. We already know what not getting better looks like. It looks like being embarrassed at home by San Jose and being crushed at Orlando. Orlando City without Kaka isn't exactly a terrifying team, but it's a team that just filleted Sporting for 3 goals. An in-form Dallas FC team comes to Kansas City on Friday; not getting better could very well look like losing by double digits to a team with Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, Blaz Peres, David Texeira, and Michel.
We don't necessarily know what it would look like for Sporting to get better. It might look like Sporting getting healthy. There are two enormous holes in Sporting's lineup. Holes big enough to score buckets of goals through. Holes that look like the injured Ike Opara and Roger Espinoza.
Teams have figured out how to beat Kevin Ellis, but a healthy Ike Opara isn't as easy to deal with (a healthy Ike Opara would also give Sporting some much needed help both taking and defending set pieces). Ike's healthy enough to appear in funny team videos, but he's not healthy enough to play yet. Sporting getting better would look a lot like Ike Opara suiting up again. At least we can reasonably hope for Ike's return before the season is out.
Replacing Roger Espinoza is a tall order. There's a reason why he's the highest paid member of the squad and the player featured on the season ticket holders' cards. Roger is a rare combination of endurance, technical ability, and soccer intelligence. Paulo Nagamura is a poor-man's Roger Espinoza, but Paulo's aging legs and fragile ankles make him a desperately poor-man's substitute for the guy who adorns my season ticket holder's card. I was pleased to see Vermes trying a midfield with both Feilhaber and Zusi in it tonight, but this result reveals that isn't a workable solution. Roger isn't likely to return this season, at least not before the playoffs. There just isn't a clear solution to his absence.
The good news about receiving yet another beat down by a bad MLS team tonight is that there is no good news. Since there isn't any good news, until Opara and Espinoza return Vermes can try stuff out to see what works. I can't help but wonder how Anibaba in central defense and the newcomer Quintilla would look in the midfield. I mean, is that going to be worse? Maybe we need to see more Mikey Lopez. Maybe we need to see Eric Palmer-Brown. Heck, maybe we need to see Mikey Lopez in central defense and Eric Palmer-Brown in the midfield. We need to see something, though.
The MLS season is long. Every team has a bad stretch, and almost every team has a good stretch. Sporting banked enough points back when they looked like world beaters to still be in a good position to make the playoffs. If we make the playoffs and have a healthy Opara and Espinoza (and a healthy Chance and a Dom not suspended for a boneheaded red card), anything can happen.
First, though, we have to make the playoffs. Making the playoffs will require us to win another few games. Somehow.
There is no good news for Sporting out of Orlando tonight. The best news on the horizon is that a dynamite Dallas team comes to town on Friday night. We might lose 12-0, but we might get better. Here's hoping.