No Big Names, but Big Plans For SKC Forwards

The 2014 season looks to be an offensive-minded year for the defensively strong Sporting KC
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, February 05, 2014

John Hefti Photography - SKC, Sporting KC

Although Sporting KC have hailed a strong defense in recent years, the forwards will have something to show for in 2014 with starters and subs all returning.

Defenses win championships but forwards often get the glory. No matter how cliché that statement may be, or how untrue it may be for Sporting Kansas City (that defenses don’t get the glory), the forwards for SKC are in for a big year.

Teal Bunbury looks to bounce back after a strong showing for his 2011 sophomore MLS season and another good season – before tearing his ACL in August – in 2012. Bunbury, who chose to be a US international over his birth country of Canada, should make a difference for the MLS Cup champion’s offensive power. Although CJ Sapong is looked upon more as the forward with strength, Bunbury has the versatility in power and speed. His deft touches on the ball to guide his dynamic shots on goal were missed when he was unable to play.

Sapong, who will now be in his fourth year in the league and was deployed to Orlando City SC last year for a handful of games, has a chance to prove himself as a strong attacker in this coming year. Although his sophomore season (2012) was his strongest of his MLS career, and he took a dip in 2013, Sapong, a player who is frequently willing to put in the effort to reach the team’s goals, should rebound with a consistently strong work rate.

The Dearborn, Mich., native, Soony Saad, had a great surging season last year and should be someone to keep an eye on for 2014. After playing (in the regular season) only 305 minutes in 2012, Saad logged 23 games played in 2013 and starting 15 of those. One of the games from 2013 that many Sporting KC fans will remember is when Saad came on as a late-in-the-game substitute in a match against DC United. His tenacious and dedicated play paid off as he was able to perform a cheeky little nutmeg while assisting fellow forward Claudio Bieler on the goal. Sporting KC supporters should see Saad, not as just a clutch – and impact – substitute in 2014, but also see him as a viable option to frustrate opponents’ defenses as a starter.

Oftentimes where Saad is (especially when he takes over the Sporting KC Instagram account), Dom Dwyer is also found. The English forward has certain self-assurance about him, as he should: Dwyer was on loan to SKC affiliate Orlando City SC for a good chunk of the USL PRO season in 2013 and while in the Sunshine State, he scored 15 goals in 13 games, including four in the USL-PRO Final. Dwyer, similar to Saad in the way that he makes an impact, will most certainly get more – and of greater quality – playing time in this new season as Sporting KC participates in multiple competitions. Speaking solely of Kansas City, however, Dwyer played in 16 regular season games with only 2 goals in 2013 and that generous playing time coming his way for 2014 should add up to more assists and goals for the men in blue.

 Somewhat of a journeyman for such a young squad such as Sporting KC, Jacob Peterson – who has been on the roster in previous years for the Colorado Rapids, Toronto FC, and the San Jose Earthquakes before coming to Kansas City – is similar to Graham Zusi in that he is a hybrid midfield/forward player. Although he is noted as a forward in game day programs, Peterson is versatile in offense. And though Peterson’s name isn’t often on the score sheet under goals, his presence is still felt in the build up play leading to goals.

One of the players whose name does end up quite a bit in the scoresheet for goals and assists is Claudio Bieler. The Argentine DP, who came to Sporting KC last season, started the 2013 season off to a great start, was injured during the late summer, and once the postseason rolled around, was for unknown reasons, in the proverbial ‘dog house’ for Vermes. Bieler seems to be back with a renewed confidence for the new season, and by ending last year on a high note by smashing home a couple of important goals, including his penalty kick in the MLS Cup Final, he should be eager to continue scoring and making an impact at striker.

When looking at Sporting KC’s roster, it’s easy to see that, although there are no high profile – and proven ­– forwards that other MLS teams have such as Mike Magee, Chris Wondolowski or Thierry Henry, the team has the depth to show the resiliency of the team. Along with the MLS regular season, Sporting Kansas City have Concacaf Champions League games to play, and add in the missing players in June because of the World Cup, and that means the array of forwards that SKC possess will be able take hold of their chances to showcase individual talent and prowess. And even though Sporting KC have not brought in any other DPs or popular US players for forward presence, the two characteristics that will highlight SKC’s forwards – hard work and team chemistry – will only help the cause to reach the team’s goals in the coming season for the reigning MLS champs.

NEXT UP: March 8 – Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash. 3 p.m. EST, NBCSN.

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.