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Montreal Impact vs Sporting Kansas City Preview: Three Questions with the Blue Testament

We talked with Ben Gartland as the Montreal Impact host the MLS SuperPower, Sporting Kansas City.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
1) How does it feel to have players that played in a World Cup as starters and had an impact under Jurgen Klinsmann?

To see Matt Besler and Graham Zusi have success on the world's biggest stage makes me more proud than anything. Besler and Zusi are great talents, don't get me wrong, but when you look at where they were when they were drafted compared to today you see that the difference is astronomical. They were good when they were drafted, but through the developmental system of Sporting Kansas City they have been brought to their full potential and are able to have success against some of the world's best teams. It's a testament to what Peter Vermes and Robb Heineman have built in terms of a developmental system. While their performances bring about fears of offers from abroad, the fact that Sporting KC has progressed so much since the 2010 World Cup that didn't see any of their players called up shows once again the turnaround that this franchise has made. If Besler and Zusi do accept offers from overseas, we will be sad here in Kansas City but the fact that we are able to draft, develop and produce such talent gives us confidence that Vermes can do it again with new players.

2) With the rumours sending Matt Besler somewhere across the big blue sea, is there a plan B to replace him right away or do you feel that Peter Vermes will aggressively recruit another central defender before August?

Peter Vermes has not said anything specific about bringing in a new central defender but he has talked about multiple players coming into the system in the next couple of weeks. One of those players was signed earlier this week and the announcement of another is expected next week. That fits the definition of multiple, so any other players signed after those two are gravy. Apologies for the long preface, but this leads into my answer. Basically we have no idea if one of the players expected is going to be a central defender. Looking at the defending core right now, there's Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin starting, with Lawrence Olum as the backup, but Olum has had to start in the holding midfield role with Rosell gone. If one of the transfers is a defensive midfielder, then Olum can slot back to being backup and can start if Besler leaves and be productive. If not, then Kevin Ellis becomes the main starter with Erik Palmer-Brown as the only reserve center back, which makes it more likely that Vermes will sign some depth.

Of course, Vermes and Heineman can be looking for a central defender as we speak. Their plans, however, have not been made visible.

3) One of Sporting Kansas City's secret to success has been payroll management, smart player procurement and excellent scouting. If the club is not willing to spend big bucks on big players eventually, will that hinder the club to continue to grow in MLS?

I don't believe so and I don't necessarily believe they are unwilling to spend big money. Before he signed with Toronto, Sporting Kansas City had offered Michael Bradley a $40 million contract but were outbid by the Reds. Let's take a look at where the ideal starting lineup have come from this season.

Eric Kronberg- Drafted
Aurelien Collin- Signed
Chance Myers- Drafted
Graham Zusi- Drafted
Matt Besler- Drafted
Seth Sinovic- Signed as reserve developed into starter
Benny Feilhaber- Traded 1st round draft pick for
Paulo Nagamura- Traded supplemental draft pick for
Dom Dwyer- Drafted
Toni Dovale- Signed.
Uri Rosell- Free Transfer.

Now, injuries and transfers have changed this lineup a lot and the depth have had to step up but the point still remains that the majority of the productive members of Sporting KC were drafted and developed. Funnily enough, their highest paid player in Claudio Bieler hasn't seen much of the pitch yet this season. Money, used effectively, can round out a team but Sporting KC have shown an ability to bring players to their potential. As long as they keep doing that, they won't have to worry about outspending other teams.


Gruenebaum; Juliao, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Olum, Nagamura, Feilhaber, Zusi, Dwyer, Dovale.