Photo: Paul Rudderow
This past weekend’s match between the top team in each conference featured a Philadelphian playing yet another new position.
Now in his first season with Kansas City, Bobby Convey is being deployed at left wing in a 4-3-3, the only new starter for the league’s best and only undefeated team. In six years, Convey has gone from World Cup regular at left midfield to reluctant (and recalcitrant) San Jose left back and now to winger. What’s interesting is how he’s fitting into that.
Kansas City’s formation is ostensibly a 4-3-3, but not necessarily a balanced one, and it may function more like a lopsided 4-2-3-1. Roger Espinoza and Julio Cesar play the base of a midfield triangle at defensive midfield, while Graham Zusi has almost free reign to roam as a central playmaker. More often than not, Zusi drifts right, and that’s where Kansas City’s attacks come from, where right back Chance Myers’ speed frees him up to open the attack. Further up field, right winger Kei Kamara will come out far from goal for touches, but he remains more natural forward than midfielder. If there’s someone sending in crosses to CJ Sapong from the right, it’s usually Myers or Convey in one of his occasional flip-flops with Kamara.
Last year, the left side was manned by Omar Bravo, more a true forward than someone to send in crosses for other strikers.
This year, Convey has stepped in to provide width on the left. Behind him, Seth Sinovic doesn’t offer as much in attack as Myers, but with Zusi often drifting right, Convey is asked to bring attacking balance. At times, Convey disappears, perhaps in part because the attacks often begin with Myers on the right, and it’s clear the team is still getting used to having Convey in the lineup.
But when Convey gets his touches, it’s clear the quality is still there. So far this season, he’s assisted on one goal and created another. On Saturday, he found space just before the half and lofted in a perfect cross that striker C.J. Sapong (a former Reading United player) headed into the net. The goal was called off due to a very questionable foul against Sapong, but Convey’s quality was still evident. We’ll see if his stretches of invisibility fade as he and his teammates grow increasingly used to each other.
Here’s a roundup of how Convey and other Philadelphia-area natives fared over the weekend in the pros.
Major League Soccer
Bobby Convey, M, Kansas City — Started and played 82 minutes in Kansas City’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. Season: 6 games, 6 starts, 1 assist.
Jeff Parke, D, Seattle — Started and played 90 minutes in Seattle’s 1-0 win over Colorado. Season: 3 games, 2 starts.
Jeff Larentowicz, M, Colorado — Started and played 90 minutes in Colorado’s 1-0 loss to Seattle. Season: 5 games, 5 starts.
Zarek Valentin, D, Montreal — Started and played 90 minutes in Montreal’s 2-1 loss to Dallas. Season: 3 games, 3 starts.
Andrew Wenger, M, Montreal — Played 18 minutes in Montreal’s 2-1 loss to Dallas. Season: 6 games, 1 goal.
Dan Gargan, D, Chicago — Started and played all 65 minutes in Chicago’s rain-shortened 1-1 draw with Houston. Season: 4 games, 4 starts.
Antoine Hoppenot, M/F, Philadelphia — Played 1 minute in Philadelphia’s 1-0 win over Columbus. Season: 1 game
Jeremiah White, M, New England — Did not play. Season: 2 games.
Chris Albright, D, Philadelphia — Did not play. Season: 2 games, 2 starts
Cristhian Hernandez, M, Philadelphia — In the 18 but did not play against Columbus. Season: 1 game
Bill Gaudette, GK, Los Angeles — In the 18 but did not play against Portland. Season: 0 games
Corey Hertzog, F, New York —Did not play. Season: 0 games
Jimmy McLaughlin, M, Philadelphia — Did not play. Season: 0 games
Zach Pfeffer, M, Philadelphia — Did not play. Season: 0 games
Jeremy Vuolo, GK, New York — In the 18 but did not play against San Jose. Season: 0 games
Eddie Gustafsson, GK, Red Bull Salzburg — In the 18 but did not play in Salzburg’s 2-2 draw against SK Sturm Graz Puntigamer. Season: 15 games. (More complete stats are not available via the Bundesliga and Red Bull web sites.)