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Timbers - Sporting Kansas City Preview Interview

We check in with The Blue Testament’s Ben Gartland to get a look what’s going on at Sporting Kansas City.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

One point from two games is not how many Sporting Kansas City fans saw their season starting. Despite the disappointing results, however, the Wizards have looked dangerous for extended stretches of both their draw to the New York Red Bulls and loss at FC Dallas.

We got in touch with Ben Gartland of our Kansas City-based sister site, The Blue Testament, to give us some insight on the happenings around Sporting Park.

SF: It sounds like Graham Zusi is still carrying a foot injury he suffered some time ago. How limited by the injury do you think he's been?

BG: There was certainly a difference between pre-World Cup Zusi and post-World Cup Zusi in the 2014 season. This year, it has seemed like he's been a little slower but I think we all just chalked it up to early-season rust, especially since he had an abridged pre-season. Now that it's come out he is still dealing with the injury, it's easy to go back and see that he's been a step slower in the first couple of games this season. To me, at least, it hasn't seemed like the injury has been obvious but he hasn't been at peak form so far.

The question now is how does this affect Sporting KC going forward. They don't have the best depth on the wing, but if resting Zusi now helps him get healthy for the home stretch then I'm all for it. There's also a question of whether resting him is necessary or not which, given his two starts in two games, doesn't seem to be as of yet.

SF: A coupe tough results for the Wiz so far, but the performances have been a bit better than the results suggest. Is there concern in Kansas City about the results or do folks think the results will catch up to the quality of the play?

BG: The biggest word thrown around Sporting KC circles this season has been "patience." This is a team that has six new starters, a not-in-form Zusi, a rusty Ike Opara and a new system from the past few years. It's going to take some time for the players to gel and for them to get into full form. I believe that this team will get progressively better as the season goes on, given the amount of talent on this team. Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza partnering in the midfield is a fun tandem to watch, Dom Dwyer receiving service from Krisztian Nemeth and Graham Zusi will get better as the three sync up more and the defense will continue to gel and get better with the promotion of Ike Opara to the starting lineup and the addition of Marcel de Jong to the left side.

If the problems are still persisting in July, then we'll have a problem, but I think because it's early in the season the team will take those performances and turn them into results.

SF: Dom Dwyer's finishing troubles: Early-season yips or regression to the mean after an outlier 2014?

BG: I believe it's just early season yips. 2014 was a fantastic year for Dwyer and he was the focal point of the attack, therefore he has a lot of expectations coming into 2015. I would say it's concerning given his first two games but then again, it's only been two games. Looking back to 2013, Dwyer went down to Orlando City and broke USL scoring records before coming up to Sporting Kansas City and scoring a few goals for the senior squad. He's never had a problem scoring, so that helps alleviate fears of an outlier season in 2014. Dwyer is one of those players who, I believe at least, will get his mojo back once he breaks that barrier and gets the first goal of the season. As a main striker, you need confidence and a little bit of arrogance to know you can put the ball in the net. As long as Dwyer isn't second guessing himself, he should be fine.