MLS W2W4: Sporting Kansas City need to rebound; Pozuelo making TFC forget Giovinco
Sporting Kansas City will look to rebound from their CONCACAF Champions League humiliation, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy take aim at Vancouver on Friday, before impressive debutant Alejandro Pozuelo and Toronto FC face Chicago on Saturday.
SKC feeling the highs and lows
For a few days this week Sporting Kansas City took on the nickname "Scoring Kansas City." Only Los Angeles FC have scored more goals than Sporting KC this season in MLS, 14 to 11, with LAFC having played a game more.
Peter Vermes' team was flying high after a 7-1 win over the Montreal Impact and actually had MLS fans optimistic they could get a result in Monterrey in their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg.
But the 5-0 bludgeoning they took from the Rayados on Thursday night will leave many wondering how SKC's mental state will be heading to FC Cincinnati on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). As good as they were against Montreal, they were equally bad against the Liga MX side, who dragged SKC around the field for 90 minutes in what was the latest chapter in MLS' embarrassing CCL history.
As for Cincinnati, all things considered, the new kids on the block have enjoyed a very good start, and since Vermes fielded his starters in Monterrey, Cincy is likely to face the reserves on Sunday.
But news of Fanendo Adi's suspension is an unwelcome distraction and Sporting KC would like nothing more than to take out their frustrations on the MLS newbies.
Outside of THAT performance from Zlatan Ibrahimovic last spring against LAFC, you would be hard-pressed to find a better MLS debut in the past year than the one served up Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo on Friday in the 4-0 win against New York City FC.
The Spanish midfielder was exceptional, setting up Jozy Altidore with an impeccable pass for TFC's opener before scoring a "Panenka" penalty of his own, followed by a Messi-esque chip for his second of the night.
It took some doing to pry Pozuelo away from Belgian side Genk, but now that he is in the fold and already connecting with Altidore, the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Sebastian Giovinco's winter departure has faded from memory. Pozuelo looks like the real deal and his next chance to impress comes on Saturday at home against the Chicago Fire (3 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
Chicago had its own debutant last week in the form of Nico Gaitan, although it was a much more understated second-half substitute appearance. Nevertheless, you don't play for Boca Juniors, Benfica and Atletico Madrid if you don't have quality, and assuming Fire boss Veljko Paunovic plays to Gaitan's strengths and puts him at No. 10, Chicago has the right playmaker to counter TFC's newfound attack.