Sporting Kansas City rolled into the Eastern Conference final with two dominating legs against the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids. A brace by Teal Bunbury handed Sporting a 2-0 win in Colorado then they picked up another 2-0 win at home, giving the Eastern Conference's top seed a spot in the conference final at home against the Houston Dynamo. They did so without Omar Bravo though, their designated player who missed the two matches as he recovered from an adductor strain, but now returns and Peter Vermes is faced with the question of whether to put him back in the starting lineup.
In the conference semifinals, Sporting showed no signs of missing Bravo, but that was against the Rapids, who didn't have anyone as good as Brad Davis or a back line with Geoff Cameron. As good as Kansas City looked, can you play the "if it broke, don't fix it" card against a team that is miles better than the one they just faced? Can you play a 4-3-3 with a front three of all out-and-out strikers, none of whom like to come back and get the ball?
Bringing Bravo into the team for any one of Bunbury, C.J. Sapong or Kei Kamara will give Sporting a forward who will spend more time on the ball and help them hold the ball. He would also attract some more attention from Adam Moffatt when he drops back, keeping Moffatt from chasing Graham Zusi around at all times. Most importantly, if he can help Sporting keep the ball, it cuts into the time that Houston can get the ball to Brad Davis and throw all their big bodies in the box, especially on set pieces.
So what is Kansas City to do? Do they go with a little different style by throwing Bravo in there to better match their opponent or do they play with the team and the way that beat down on the Rapids? It could be the decision that determines whether Sporting are booking their tickets for MLS Cup or getting ready for 2012.