RSL Soapbox) Is Benny Feilhaber the frontrunner for MLS MVP at the moment?
The Blue Testament) From my incredibly bias position, yes he is. I believe that he is not only the most valuable to his team, but that he has been the best all around player. Feilhaber and Giovinco are the clear candidates at this point. Giovinco has been incredible, but the work that Benny does on the other side of the ball is what pushes him above Sebastian for me. He will have a hand in every part of the game from defending, to creating chances, to finishing chances. This team was in flux quite a bit at the beginning of the season with injuries and newcomers, Benny held everything together. No joke... the guy was playing CB for a few minutes at one point this season. He makes everyone around him better. He will yell at a teammate (or the whole damn team) when they need to wake up and make something happen. The guy can WILL this team to results.
Since the playoff run in 2013, I believe Benny Feilhaber has consistently been the best player in MLS and I would love to see him get rewarded with MVP at the end of this year. Giovinco is going to score more goals, get more headlines and more money, but at the moment Feilhaber is the MVP.
RSL Soapbox) Where does Real Salt Lake rank as far as being Sporting KC's rival?
The Blue Testament) They are clearly the number one rival. Benny made it clear how the team feels about them. Players for RSL have also been vocal about KC. But I do have to admit, fans here feel very much the same way. It definitely goes all the way back to MLS Cup and probably the "FU-KC" shirts that were made. During that time I think it was respect of RSL is what made it easy to hate. But in the last two years, every single game between has been very chippy. There are a lot of chances to yell and scream at a hard foul every game. The games are always a blast. Let's be honest, every one loves a rivalry and to hate another team. There are other teams that KC loves to hate like Seattle and Houston, but I think every game with RSL makes it very clear where the real rivalry is.
RSL Soapbox) Sporting KC has allowed the least amount of goals in the league thus far. Did their defense improve with the departure of Collin?
The Blue Testament) Well, the stats don't lie! But really, I would have completely agreed had Ike Opara not been injured for the season. It was looking like Ike could have become defender of the year this season, and he would have been behind Collin had they given him DP money. But it is hard to say that Kevin Ellis is an improvement over Collin. The defensive stats will indeed look much better than last year. But so will almost every stat.
Last year was rough. Injuries and international duties ravaged the team. At times it felt like Feilhaber was the only real starter on the field. Moreover, there was no holding midfielder or a clear starting keeper. Much of the credit for the defensive prowess this season can be given to the emergence of Soni Mustivar at holding-mid and Tim Melia in goal. Obviously, to have the run of 5 shutouts in 6 games everyone has to be doing their job. So guys like Kevin Ellis and Amadou Dia have stepped up admirably, but Soni is garnering Uri Rosell comparisons and Melia has looked like a superhero.
So I don't know if the defense has technically improved from his departure, but nobody in KC is too beat up about losing him anymore!
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