KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 21: Sporting KC poses for a group photo before the game against the New England Revolution at Livestrong Sporting Park on July 21, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Every team in MLS is past the halfway point for their season after last week's results. Sporting sits a point out of first place in the East and within shouting distance of the Supporters Shield. We at The Daily Wiz pulled together a roundtable discussion to reflect on the first half of the season and where we think Sporting KC will end up at the end.
Who is your mid-season MVP on Sporting KC?
AlexEnglen: Jimmy Nielsen. The Danish goalkeeper has continued to show us why he is one of the top keepers in the league with sensational kick saves and has been a leader for KC and their backline. While some field players have played very well this season, they've all had patches where their form has dipped, Nielsen has been consistent through and through.
SirBenGartland: Matt Besler. He was vital to the iron strong defense during the seven game stretch, he makes Aurellien Collin better, and there was a huge negative impact when he went down.
CincySporting: Roger Espinoza. He's realized his potential. An monster that solidifies the best defense in the league, creates turnovers, and feeds balls back to the craftmasters Zusi and Kamara to attack the final third. He is everything you want in a defensive midfielder. He is more composed than last season, barring a poorly timed elbow in Chicago that drew a red card.
Who is your mid-season Most Irreplaceable Player on Sporting KC?
AlexEnglen: Matt Besler. This was especially exemplified when the young center back was out with an injury a couple of weeks ago. With "inferior" center backs partering him, Aurelien Collin was forced into feeling that he was to play both CB positions at once, causing huge gaps in the heart of defense. With Besler in the middle you know you will have stability and consistnecy, without him our team looks severly worse.
CincySporting: Matt Besler. AlexEnglen took the words right out of my mouth.
SirBenGartland: Jimmy Nielsen. The leadership he provides plus his excellent saves cannot be replicated in the league.
Best Sporting KC moment of the early season?
SirBenGartland: Sapong's goal against DC United in extra time was my favorite moment. What a way to start the season.
AlexEnglen: Winning the semifinal of the US Open Cup at Philadelphia.
CincySporting: The Sportalona match. The St. Patrick's Day opener against New England where Sporting KC played perfect soccer. Bonus points for the Irish Jig.
Worst Sporting KC moment of the early season?
CincySporting: The 4-0 drubbing from Philadelphia. Sporting KC has shown a frustrating inability to come away with points against the worst teams in the league.
AlexEnglen: Losing to Chicago at home because Sporting KC missed so many chances and it was a supposed "derby match."
SirBenGartland: When Collin gave up the PK in Chicago. Just the bottom of the slump.
SirBenGartland: Aurellien Collin
AlexEnglen: Aurelien Collin, just kidding, Roger Espinoza. He's really started to compete with his fellow teammates Myers and Zusi in the hair department.
CincySporting: Kei Kamara. Consistency on the field = consistency with the hair.
Which regular season game do you have circled on the calendar?
AlexEnglen: The Sporting KC vs. Chicago game on 9/28. It's on national tv, and if Sporting KC falter and Chicago pick up their form in the last stages of the season, the game will be vital to the East in terms of who finishes where in the playoff positions. Plus, sitting in the Cauldron and singing some of the songs about Chicago with them is very enterntaining.
SirBenGartland: August 26th vs New York. This is our first of 3 games with them, and the only one at LSP. It's a must win.
CincySporting: October 20th at New York. If the East is anything like last season the race to the top will come down to the final week of the season. Sporting KC will have almost two weeks to prepare for this potential 6-point swing. Barring the unexpected, this has all the markings of being the defining game of the season.
Which player with limited playing time are you hoping to see more in the last half of the season?
CincySporting: Neven Markovic. A recent signing by Peter Vermes, and what little I have heard about him has been glowing. Depth at center back/left back will be critical as this brutally hot season continues. I look forward to see if he's as good as advertised in the friendlies.
AlexEnglen: Soony Saad. The young teenager will turn 20 in mid-August and Sporting KC needs to start developing him faster and provide him with serious playing time against MLS opposition if he is to be an adequate replacement for Sapong or Bunbury if SKC do ever lose them to an overseas club.
SirBenGartland: Soony Saad. His finishing ability is excellent, and we need finishers.
What position will Sporting KC finish at the end of the regular season?
SirBenGartland: 2nd in the East. I think with New York being loaded and DC United motivated under new ownership it will be difficult to repeat as Eastern Conference champions.
CincySporting: 3rd in the East if Sporting don't make a transfer move for a veteran striker. 1st in the East if KC does make a move.
AlexEnglen: First in the East. 3rd league wide with San Jose and Seattle in front of them.
What are your thoughts on Sporting KC at mid-season? Who do you think is the MVP right now? Enter your comments below.