Thursday, March 29, 2012

Teal vs CJ

photo courtesy of Jarred Donalson

With the US team out of Olympic qualifying, it means that some plans this summer are likely being changed. I think plenty of people were thinking/expecting Teal Bunbury to miss some time this coming season while in London. Now, Bunbury will stay in KC through the summer (barring him being sold this summer) and that means that we're going to be getting a much longer discussion on who should be the starter, Bunbury, or last year's rookie of the year, CJ Sapong.

There are people on both sides of the debate, although based off of what I've heard and seen, Sapong has many more fans than Bunbury has currently. The arguments for Sapong are that he's a more consistent player, he always seems to be doing the little things right. He didn't score as much as Bunbury did last year, but the counter to that is Sapong does a better job of playing back to goal and seems to be the better player for the 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation that KC runs. The arguments for Bunbury is that his speed is able to exploit defenses, being able to get behind the defense. The argument against Bunbury is his lack of a consistent first touch.

Both players though have their place in the team right now. Both player's style of play compliments the other as a substitute. For example, in the season opener against DC, Bunbury started and spent 75 minutes running at DC's defense, wearing them out that way. Then Sapong came on and was able to physically go up against what was a tired back line. And Sapong took advantage of that in stoppage time, losing his defender on the corner kick.

The opposite could be done as well. You can have Sapong start and played 75ish minutes, physically wearing down the central defenders by doing what he does best, backing into them on long balls, knocking them around a bit. Then bring on Bunbury who can use his speed to get behind a defense that is worn out from being knocked around all game by Sapong.

Both of these ideas have merits and can be used in different positions, against different teams, depending on who the team is, the players that they have in their defense, and how that team plays defense. The other thing that needs to be looked at is form. Currently I'd probably start Sapong because he's in better form than Bunbury. On the other hand, Chivas central defense of Rauwshan McKenzie and Heath Pearce are not exactly fast defenders, which would seem to point to want to give Bunbury the nod.

In the end, this debate is a good one to have when you have two players of their caliber, on the team able to start.


MOUFWASH said...

I do think CJ should "start", but its really about matchups and what Vermes sees in his head. This is a great situation to have, though I believe that in game tactics/changes are what Vermes has room to grow in, he has certianly earned trust from fans. His choices are between 2 young, and talented players. Quite a contrast to having Christman on the bench or the days of thinking Sealy was probably our best option.

Im not a Bunbury fanboy or anything, but I do think he has gotten some venom this year when his performances havent been bad, not great mind you, but not bad.

hartley said...

This is a good problem to have. You want this kind of problem in every position to prove you have depth and develop the strength of the team for more victories in the U.S. Open Cup and eventually Champions League play.

That said, each player has his strengths. I just think CJ has more abilities. Maybe that's because he fits the center forward role so well. Teal is a run after it forward. If he could develop his abilities to pass and defend, he could play out wide sometimes and get more runs at the defense.

I will leave it to PV at this point to decide when to use which.

Nathan Martin said...

For Teal, it is all about finishing. His speed creates so many chances that he can afford to have a few wild (Kei) shots as long as one hits the back of the net. For now, Sapong is scoring enough to keep his spot in the XI.

If SKC were down in the second half, I'd like to see Teal come in for Cesar (shifting Zusi and Espinoza back). CJ could hold up the ball and spring Teal on a break through the middle.