Sporting KC: 4 things to watch for in 2020 MLS Playoffs

Sporting KC (Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
Sporting KC (Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /
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Sporting KC
Sporting KC, Cameron Duke (Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /

3. Testing the youth

Sporting KC had to feel pretty comfortable coming into the season with a good mix of veterans and younger players. Once it was announced that Felipe Gutierrez would miss the entire season with a long-term injury, things turned sideways. SKC had four proven midfielders in Roger Espinoza, Ilie Sanchez, Gadi Kinda, and Gianluca Busio (who had a poor showing at the MLS Is Back tournament).

With the condensed schedule, the four core midfielders have been in and out of the lineup for a multitude of reasons, however, it has been the younger guys who have stepped up to fill in when needed. While Busio has dramatically improved his performances, the uncertainties of Felipe Hernandez and Cameron Duke have been answered. The Academy pair have both been able to come in off the bench and help sharpen things up with or start an odd game and hold their own.

Another youthful player who has stepped up big has been Jaylin Lindsey. In a year where he was expected to get some minutes in the USL Championship with Sporting KC II, he was forced into the starting role at right back for the injured Graham Zusi. After stepping in, Lindsey’s defending abilities have been on full display and he has been as solid as they come at right back, although they do miss Zusi’s involvement in the attack.

No matter what happened in the past, the playoffs are an entirely new season where low performers can perform high and high performers can perform low. The younger guys in the squad will get their first minutes of postseason action, and some may thrive while others may stumble under the pressure.

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