Atlanta United FC's defense of the MLS Cup title might be off to a pedestrian start, but don't expect Sporting Kansas City to overlook the reigning champions when they visit Children's Mercy Park on Sunday.
Sporting defender Seth Sinovic joined Sports Radio 810 WHB to preview the matchup on Thursday. In a discussion with host Soren Petro on The Program, Sinovic admitted that Atlanta's recent struggles are a bit surprising considering how stacked head coach Frank de Boer's side is.
"They are absolutely loaded with talent," Sinovic said of Atlanta. "Josef Martinez led the league in goals and broke the single-season goal scoring record last year. They have a lot of other (great) players, too, and for whatever reason they're going through a little funk. Maybe it's because they're getting everyone's best shot being the champion. We will definitely not take them lightly because they're a team that's waiting to burst out. We've got to be prepared for them."
Indeed, Martinez bagged 30 goals for Atlanta last year en route to MLS MVP honors. The Five Stripes boast a slew of other dangerous players as well, namely Ezequiel Barco, Pity Martinez, Tito Villalba and Julian Gressel. Put it all together, and it becomes a formidable challenge for Sporting on their home turf.
"Martinez's movement off the ball is so good, and that's where he hurts you," Sinovic said of the record-breaking striker. "His game isn't necessarily having the ball and taking you on like (Lionel) Messi does sometimes for Barcelona, but he is so intelligent with his movement off the ball.
"Guys like Julian Gressel are constantly aware of the runs (Martinez) likes to make, so we need to have our head on a swivel and always be aware of where he's at."
Sinovic and Petro also saved time to talk about Sporting's Retro Night, including the new retro kit, and the wildly popular Game of Thrones TV series.
Listen to the full podcast below.