After suffering through an injury-ridden beginning of the season, it seems Sporting Kansas City have finally found their drive again. Erik Hurtado’s late game-winner led the team to a 1-0 victory over Minnesota United on Thursday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
The 28-year-old’s strike helped Sporting KC preserve their perfect home record against the Loons (5-0-0 in all competitions) and denied Minnesota the opportunity to solidify their hold on second place in the West.
In a possession dominated match, the home side unleashed a total of 22 shot attempts that forced Minnesota’s goalkeeper Vito Mannone into five saves.
In response, Minnesota also forced a spry Tim Melia to make five saves that night. The Loons came close to the opening goal in the 33rd minute when Melia had to make a double save, first parrying aside Hassani Dotson’s shot from distance, then springing to his feet quickly to block Mason Toye’s rebound to keep the game scoreless.
Four minutes later, Graham Zusi challenged Mannone, who pushed his attempt over the crossbar for a corner kick.
KC favorite, Ike Opara made his highly anticipated return to Children’s Mercy Park after a six-year stint with Sporting KC. His presence did not go unnoticed, as he recorded two of the Loon’s 12 shot attempts.
Sporting KC produced several good scoring opportunities but had trouble converting them throughout the second half. IIie Sanchez and Gerso Fernandes entered the match just three minutes apart and made an immediate impact.
In the 88th minute, Johnny Russell’s through ball helped Hurtado finally breakthrough from a tight angle beating the keeper to score the game winner – leading Sporting KC to their second straight win.
With a new sense of energy, Sporting KC will host longtime Western Conference rivals, Houston Dynamo on Saturday, August 31st.
How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes, 810 WHB, ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
Every point matters. And Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United are not taking the match tomorrow likely.
For the better part of the last decade, Sporting KC has been the team to watch in the Western Conference. Minnesota United has struggled to get out of the bottom places for the first two years of their existence.
This year, the tables have turned for these two Midwestern teams. Sitting in second place with 42 points in a tight race, the Loons will be looking to secure their first-ever playoff qualification, in addition to hosting a playoff game at Allianz Field.
SKC’s turbulent season has been frustrating for both the players and fans. Still stuck in alternating positions below the line and with nine games left, SKC is desperate to keep their streak of eight straight postseason appearances alive.
Both teams will meet for the first time in league play this Thursday for the “friendliest rivalry” in MLS after the Loons eliminated Sporting KC from Round 4 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this year.
The match will also serve as reunion when SKC favorite, Ike Opara returns to CMP. Despite wearing the wrong jersey – Opara continues to be a dominant defender and has been critical in guiding the Loons.
To help get a better insight on the Loons and their club history, I interviewed my colleague at MLSFemale and Minnesota United reporter, Bridget McDowell.
Araceli Villanueva: Minnesota United struggled for their first two years of existence. Now sitting in second place, how do you think they’ve been able to turn things around this season and can they keep up the momentum with playoffs just around the corner?
Bridget McDowell: Minnesota has finally started to build an identity and team chemistry. The new veterans (Ike Opara, Ozzie Alonso, Lawrence Olum) have added a new level of accountability (something which was building last season, but often dropped off with each poor result). Their guidance has led the squad away from the in-fighting seen often in ’17 and ’18 and towards a more positive approach.
Players may show frustration, but typically discuss what led to a mistake and help one another improve. I’ve seen quite a few post-match discussions in the locker room, with players huddled around phones watching a replay or getting a teammate’s perspective on an error. The rookies are also upping the standard and pushing the whole squad to work harder.
Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson bring fresh attitudes and their work ethic and adaptability seems to be pushing the others. These players have all been key pieces in the gutsy, gritty victories (and draws) that have landed Minnesota in 2nd.
AV: Thursday’s matchup has been dubbed the “Friendliest Rivalry” for this week. What is your take on the title?
BM: Minnesota Soccer Twitter got a kick out of [Sporting KC’s] tailgate video in which fans shared their views of United fans. “Oh yeah, those guys” and “they’ve got a nice place up there” is a taste of the neutral rivalry this has become. United has drawn Sporting as a USOC opponent since the NASL days so when that trend continued as Minnesota moved into the same league, the same conference, as Kansas City. It’s kind of a forced rivalry. I think it’s become a parody rivalry of sorts.
The first face-off I witnessed was the 2016 USOC match played in Blaine. I stood with the supporters who were screaming at the ref, banging on the boards and frustrated to tears with the result. Sporting’s first visit to TCF Stadium in 2017 served as the bitter rematch. Minnesota got revenge despite GK Bobby Shuttleworth having his nose broken by Dom Dwyer. By the time that USOC draw came around, United fans could only say, “Those guys again?” I’ve talked with many United fans considered SKC their MLS club before MNUFC made the jump. With similar histories, it’s a team and fan base we look up to and a match-up we circle on our calendars every year. If the league is going to call that a rivalry, we may as well have a little fun with it. But if MLS really wanted to invest in this ‘rivalry’, it would pitch in a little money to speed up the endless construction on I-35.
AV: Kevin Molino and Darwin Quintero are a few players that stood out from the last match against the Rapids. Do you think this duo could deliver similar results again on Thursday? Or which players should Sporting KC fans should be cautious of?
BM: They stood out against the Rapids, but not so much against Orlando when they played again at Allianz on Saturday. Molino and Quintero are definitely a strong attacking partnership.
New [young designated player] Thomas Chacon could shake that up on Thursday, though it is not clear how involved he will be. (MNUFC has said he will travel, but haven’t said in what capacity. He’s a likely sub though, with Angelo Rodriguez injured.)
SKC fans should know exactly who to be cautious of: Ike Opara. Many soccer writers and pundits have pointed out recently that SKC has yet to fill the gap left by Opara, leaving that defense uncharacteristically weak while Minnesota’s has been uncharacteristically strong. Opara is a clear leader in this squad so his return appearance will be motivation to win, maybe more so than the ‘rivalry’ atmosphere. Other players? Gasper, Jan Gregus and Ethan Finlay are all on every opponent’s radar each week; this one will be no different.
Bonus question: What is your score prediction?
2-1 Loons. Luck has played a distinct role in Minnesota’s recent successes. That, combined with a struggling SKC defense and an eager Opara, will drive United’s attack, but – true to the “Nicest Rivalry” moniker – it won’t be a complete blowout.
A revived Sporting Kansas City proved they have what it takes, despite snapping their first two-game winning streak in a 2-0 loss against FC Dallas on Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
On a smothering 98 degree evening, missing Ilie due to yellow card accumulation – a full strength roster kicked off strong with Gerso Fernandes, Gianluca Busio, Yohan Croizet, and Seth Sinovic constantly attacking Dallas’ side but could not capitalize on any chances.
Dallas would capitalize on a costly Sporting giveaway shortly thereafter, as Michael Barrios intercepted a stray back pass and squared low for Dominique Badji who got the opening goal in the 37th minute.
The hosts threatened near the half-hour mark when Graham Zusi whipped a teasing free kick into a crowded penalty area, but Seth Sinovic’s snap header skipped wide of the target.
Shortly after Croziet received a yellow after catching Ziegler from behind and a short hydration break; Felipe Gutierrez spread it right to Johnny Russell, whose low drive was blocked behind for a corner kick. The Scottish foward’s ensuing corner kick was nodded wide by a leaping Barath.
Like his teammate, Gutierrez picked up a caution in the 43th minute and will miss the match next Friday due to yellow card accumulation.
Dallas moved forward to double the lead, but Tim Melia punched away Santiago Mosquera’s strike leading the game into the half.
Shortly after the restart, Croziet’s right footed shot from outside the box went high and wide to the left; before he was substituted out for Krisztian Nemeth in the 55th minute.
Two minutes later, Mosquera sent a through ball to 18-year-old Jesus Ferreira who moved around Matt Belser and Botond Barath, then slotted past Melia at close range to double the advantage for the visitors in the 57th minute.
Now trailing by two – the home side got a much needed boost of energy when Roger Espinoza entered to a standing ovation in the 65th minute. This marked his first match since April 14th, having missed the last three months due to a knee injury.
Less than a minute after his introduction, Zusi’s service inside the box to the far post was headed just wide and into the side netting by Sinovic.
Daniel Salloi and Krisztian Nemeth both threatened to put Sporting KC on the scoresheet. But Salloi’s drive was blocked behind for a corner kick and Nemeth’s effort was tipped over the bar by Jesse Gonzalez – ending the match in a devastating loss.
For all their possession, Sporting KC failed to register a shot on target until the 88th minute, with 10 off target and six blocked. And they still remain in 10th place with 25 points.
In hindsight, the result is a bump in the road for the home team that is finally finding their footing again and getting players back from the injury list at the right time. The only question that remains is: what will it take to get back above the line?
Sporting KC will have a chance to bounce back when the club visits New York City FC at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on Friday, July 26.
Sporting Kansas City finally snapped it’s seven-game winless streak in a thrilling 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday. Johnny Russell’s hat trick and Tim Melia’s cat-like reflexes sealed the deal.
Even though ten players remain on the injury list, with five totally out, the list is finally shrinking as Vermes nearly sat a full bench. Yohan Croizet started in Krisztian Nemeth’s place, who was out due to a red he picked up in the match against the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend. And Jimmy Medranda made his triumphant return.
Sporting KC got off to a strong start, attacking the visitor’s side twice, but Stefan Frei was quick to deny both attempts.
Nicolas Hasler provided the spark the team needed for the opening goal by keeping the ball in play in the 29th minute. He slotted it through toCroizet who defeated the defender to find Russell. And Johnny smashed it home!
The team has clearly put a lot of trust in Kelyn Rowe as they helped place him into 1v1 situations. However, all attempts were either denied by Frei or flew over the bar.
Luckily, Russell completely dismantled the Sounders’ defense to double Sporting KC’s lead just before the half.
Shortly after the restart, Raul Ruidiaz pulled one back for the visitors putting the score up 2-1.
Croizet kept it away from the defender, passing it to Kelyn Rowe who sent a cross to Russell in the penalty area. Without hesitation, Russell flicked it into the back of the net, scoring the hat trick in the 68th minute. He is the second player in club history to score two hat tricks. And a bonus fact, his second hat trick came on the same day that Eddie Johnson scored his second hat trick for the club.
However, the celebrations were cut short. Seattle’s Kelvin Leerdam quickly answered Russell’s goal by putting in a header off of a set piece, going straight through SKC’s defense.
With the score now 3-2, Sporting KC went into full gear to protect the goal at any cost. Even seeing an injured captain, who kept grabbing his hamstring for a better part of the half, fight through the pain to help his team. Unfortunately, Besler would call it quits in the 79th minute because of fatigue. Graham Smith would take this place.
But his exit didn’t displace SKC as Melia went on to make a stunning double-save and was later called back into action to deny a Sounder from close range.
Jimmy Medranda, who entered to a standing ovation from the crowd; after spending nearly a year and a half out due to injury, wasted little time to fire a rocket shot at the goal, but it deflected off the post.
A last-minute attempt saw Frei step out to the half to assist his teammates. But it would fail as the ball flew wide of the goal – ending the match in a much needed 3-2 victory for Sporting KC.
Sporting KC will have a quick turnaround as they host the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, May 29.
Just three days after being eliminated from the 2019 Concacaf Champions League in a semifinal defeat to Monterrey, Sporting Kansas City returned to MLS action. And their return did not go as expected as they earned a 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
New York had entered Sunday with a three-game losing streak and successfully avoided a fourth straight defeat thanks to improved performance in the second half. It was the first time Sporting KC hosted their East Coast rivals since the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.
On the brink of falling below the line in the standings, Sporting KC displayed a sense of urgency after Gerso Fernandes created instant danger for the visitors after going down to the left side to send in a cross. Five minutes later, Felipe Gutierrez forced a diving save from Luis Robles.
Johnny Russell came close to earning the early goal in the 10th minute after dismantling the Red Bulls’ defense however his close-range shot missed the net by mere inches. Moments later, the Scotsman notched the game opener with a low strike in the 24th minute; scoring his fourth goal this season.
Sporting KC led the match 1-0 into halftime. But it wouldn’t take long for New York to flip the script and level the match. Shortly after the restart, Daniel Royer broke through SKC’s defense and got around Tim Melia for the equalizer.
Brian White doubled the Red Bulls’ lead in the 75th minute with a diving header – following a sequence of plays from Kaku and Aaron Long.
Is Gianluca Busio Sporting KC’s new secret weapon? Maybe.
Fresh off the bench, the 16-year-old struck the equalizer past Robles to secure the draw for the home side in the 88th minute, as he did in Cincinnati last weekend. Graham Zusi’s low drive through a crowded penalty area reached the young Sporting KC Academy product, who coolly steered the ball home from close range to record his fourth career MLS goal.
During the final minutes of stoppage time, a mass confrontation broke out after Red Bulls’ Kaku sent a strike into the stands at point-blank range. This act caused the home side to jump to the fan’s defense, invoking a two squad square off.
Kaku was ultimately shown a red for violent conduct and ejected from the match. Sibiga then issued cautions to Luis Robles and Krisztian Nemeth for unsporting behavior in the brawl. Following the final whistle, players from both sides greeted the fan and to see if he was doing well.
Fight club antics aside, after facing three consecutive teams from the Eastern Conference – Sporting KC will return to the road in the West when they travel to San Jose to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, April 20.
Sporting Kansas City earns a scoreless draw against Portland Timbers for leg one of the Western Conference Finals at Providence Park on Sunday night. Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and the rest of the top-seeded team shutout Portland in front of a sold-out crowd.
Despite ending in a draw, this match had no shortage of drama. Tim Melia was immediately called into action just a few seconds after the whistle blew – arguably setting the tone of the game. Melia would go on to record six saves, a clean sheet, and a first postseason shutout. Including, the final save that would decide the faith of the game.
Is the curse of the post finally broken? Maybe. In the sixth minute, Timber’s defender Jorge Villafana sends a low ball towards the ball only to see his effort bounce off the post that helped Portland win the knock round match in 2015.
Portland was forced to make an early sub in the 18th minute when Bill Tuilmoa replaced Larrys Mabiala. However, the early substitution did not slow Portland down as they continued to press Sporting KC’s defense. Fortunately, with the fast reactions from Melia, Zusi, and Besler, they were able to take Sporting KC into the half scoreless under pressure.
Sporting KC appeared to have adjusted from a choppy first half when Johnny Russell gets a great first touch after the restart. However, he sees his chance fly over the bar. Russell again would create more opportunities throughout the second half but fail to capitalize on his chances.
Russell was not the only one who almost opened the scoring. Ten minutes after Russell’s first attempt, Seth Sinovic struck in a 20-yard volley going straight into Jeff Attinella‘s arms – marking his first save of the night.
Portland came close to taking the lead in the 70th minute after David Guzman was able to get past Melia after Liam Ridgewell’s header came off the post, following a scramble in the box. However, Guzman’s goal was called offsides, giving Sporting KC a sign of relief. Still scoreless with less than 20 minutes of regular time, both sides pursued.
Timbers think they finally have the break through they need but the goal is called back after a late offside call. pic.twitter.com/Syrjl7ErXq
Manager Peter Vermes made an out-of-character decision to sub in Yohan Croizet for Russell in the last minute of stoppage time. Croizet’s addition did not make much of a difference as they ended the first leg in a scoreless draw.
Sporting KC will now host the Portland Timbers for leg two of the Western Conference Final on Thursday, November 29.
Sporting Kansas City hosts the Los Angeles Football Club for the first time on Sunday, October 28 in the battle for the top spot in the Western Conference. The regular season finale will also welcome home former players Benny Feilhaber and Latif Blessing.
The last time these two clubs met was on August 11, when Sporting KC delivered LAFC their first and only home loss of the regular season in a 2-0 victory at the Banc of California stadium.
It is important to note that the black-and-gold were missing several key players due to coming off a two-game streak – with their last match being in Houston, for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals, three days prior to meeting Sporting KC. Andre Horta, Danilo Silva, and Christian Ramirez filled these empty roles while also having earned their first MLS career starts.
The black-and-gold are expected to be at full strength for Sunday’s contest with Tyler Miller back in goal and Steven Beitashour, Walker Zimmerman and Adama Diomande returning to the pitch.
Bob Bradley‘s team will be coming off the momentum they gained from their final regular season match at home where they earned a 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps and made history as the first club to reach 57 points in their inaugural season.
Sporting KC currently holds first place in the Western Conference with LAFC just two points behind – tied with FC Dallas. A win would secure the top spot for the black-and-gold, however, if the match ends in a draw or loss they could potentially remain in second place. Of course, we would need to take into account the fact FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders would both need to lose in order for this to happen. Given their current records – that’s a tall order for any team.
The top two seeds will earn knockout round byes, while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host a single-elimination knockout round match on either Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 against the No. 6 and No. 5 seeds, respectively.
On the other side, similar to their visitors, Sporting KC will look to stay atop the standings and a first-round bye. The home side could still finish anywhere from first to fourth, having clinched their first home playoff game since the 2013 MLS Cup.
Only one question remains. Who will come out on top?
So, friends, it’s March. How is it already March? In a week and a half I’ll be on spring break again, but this time I’ll be on spring break in the place where everyone else goes for spring break. So no Disney for me for awhile. Read more here
Also, I’m really sorry I’ve been AWOL for the past few months. This transition to a new school hasn’t been difficult, per say. I have just been far busier than I was at my old school. I promise that I will be here for the season, so if you look forward to my ramblings they will be there.
I could also treat you to a paper on the history and rise of LGBTQ culture in American musical theatre, or a theoretical comparison of Max Richter’s Recomposed and Vivaldi’s La Primavera…if you’re interested. I can also clinic your concert band. But back to soccer.
Sporting KC has made a good bit of movement during the offseason. We lost Latif Blessing to the Expansion Draft, Benny Feilhaber is gone to LAFC for allocation money, and Andrew Dykstra is off to Colorado for a pick in the 2020 Super Draft.
We picked up quite a few players as well. We drafted Eric Dick a goalkeeper from Butler who was born in Roeland Park, KS, and Graham Smith (yes, we have two Grahams) from the University of Denver. We also signed homegrown player Matt Lewis, a defender from Fordham. Lewis, Dick, and Smith seem like they can be solid loans to Sportings USL affiliate the Swope Park Rangers so they can continue to grow and improve.
There are also three new International Players with some serious soccer chops. Yohan Croizet is a midfield/forward transfer from Belgian side KV Mechelen. He has scored 31 goals since beginning his professional career in 2011.
Another new midfielder is Chilean national team veteran, Felipe Gutierrez. Gutierrez has featured in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2015 Copa America Gold Medal Team, the 2017 Confederations Cup, and 2018 World Cup qualifying. Last season he was on loan to Brazilian team Internacional from Real Betis.
The last international player is forward Johnny Russell from Scotland. He is a proven goal-scorer with 94 professional goals in both England and Scotland. He has spent the last five years at Derby County in England’s second-division. In addition to his 94 professional goals, he has one international goal in his four caps for Scotland.
Many Sporting fans have been worried about having a consistent goal-scoring threat up front. It seemed like Dom Dwyer was going to be that type of player, but he was never able to recreate his success from his pair up with Kristian Nemeth. Diego Rubio and Gerso Fernandes are both working their way toward that level, but neither has quite reached where the team needs them to be yet.
Russell could be that guy. He has the experience, so if he can translate those skills to MLS he could be a major threat.
Another player to be excited about is veteran MLS player Brad Evans. He comes to SKC as a free agent from the Seattle Sounders where he was part of four Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Championships and one MLS Championship. He is also a former member of the US Men’s National Team having started five matches in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying and competing in two CONCACAF Gold Cups. He will add some depth to a defensive line that took a hit with the departure of Saad Abdul-Salaam to NYCFC and the waiving of Kevin Ellis.
I am optimistic about the season. SKC’s defensive line plus Tim Melia was the strongest in the MLS last season and with the growth of Gerso and Diego Rubio and the addition of Johnny Russell I can see this being a successful season for boys in blue. Ben Baer from MLS.com thinks we’ll finish 3rd in the West. Let’s show him what’s what, guys. Oh, Captain My Captain, Matt Besler says it’s time for more trophies, so let’s bring some cups home to KC.
The new alternate jersey is straight fire. I’m 100% serious. The Men in Blazers even think so.
Trust @MenInBlazers when they say you need to get your hands on this new kit. Must be the English accents.
Good evening, Sporting KC fans! It’s been a bit hard for me to write articles during school season, so I decided that I would let you in on what goes through my brain while watching a game on TV. This is roughly what I do on Twitter, but I might ramble because I have more than 140 characters so… oh, and I was at a concert for the first half, so this is only the final 45 minutes. We’ll see if that turns out to be a good thing.
If you don’t want to read my rambling thoughts then you can TLDR to the end for some takeaways.
How did we spend the entire season near the top of the table, and then at the end sink to fourth? That is unacceptable. We need to get back ahead of Seattle and Seattle South (Portland).
Peter Vermes is the best-dressed coach in the league. If you disagree you can @ me, and we can have a grown-up discussion about it.
Second half underway. Leonardo Machado may have pushed Zusi out of bounds, but whatever.
BENNY! Ugh, so close. Jimmy Medranda feeds the ball straight to Feilhaber who kicked it into the shin of the keeper, Mr. Beard Man. He looks like he needs a razor and a What Not to Wear makeover.
They keep showing the Houston coach. He looks a little bit like an angry uncle.
Benny yelling a bad word on camera. I’ll let you guess which one.
There is going to be a fight by the end of this game. I can feel it.
I have said this before, and I will say this again. If your name is really common (like Alex) you can’t just put that on the back of your jersey. There are too many Alexes for you to claim it for just you.
I wonder what Tyler Deric‘s middle name is? I love when people have first names as all of their names.
Ilie won Sporting KC’s Newcomer of the Year, and there is no one more deserving. This team would not be the same without him.
“This ball falls to Medranda” who then promptly actually fell.
I love when soccer commentators say “Went to ground” when someone falls like the players are plants or something.
How is Mr. Beard Man in the way of every shot? Move Beard Guy! I would like a goal please. Also, VAR, that ball may have been in.
Roger Espinoza almost killed a guy. It was kinda awesome.
Benny’s ankle turned in a way that ankles are not supposed to turn. He has had some bad luck with ankles this season.
Sidenote: husband just returned with Chinese food!
Jimmy Medranda with a great chance, but his cross is missed by both Rubio and Salloi. Besler‘s pass to Medranda was a beauty!
The ref just got nutmegged. That was kinda funny.
An SKC player ends up on the ground in the box, and there is no call. Half of the season in a sentence. The other half would be: Sporting made 3 million shots on goal, and none went in, but they were really good at passing.
Why is Tyler Deric Tim Melia-ing tonight? Geesh!
Diego Rubio just had a gorgeous strike, but it was deflected off Machado and flew over the bar. The bad words are happening in the Arpin household.
Ilie fashion update: After a season of black boots Ilie has moved to a pair of bright orange ones. He is also still in his trademarked long sleeved jersey. Find you someone that is as dedicated to you as Ilie is to not showing his arms.
So in the 82nd minute, Sporting was making an attacking run, and the ref got in the way and made us lose the ball. Not cool man.
22 shots so far. None in the goal. #2017
Bes motioning for the ref to hurry up and pull the yellow card is my new spirit animal.
Ike Opara just headed the crap out of a Dynamo corner kick, and it was the bravest move I may have seen all year. He had that terrifying concussion earlier this season. There is a good amount of concussion checking for both SKC and Houston.
Sporting needs to get their crap together because Seattle and Seattle Jr. are both killing it tonight. At least Vancouver drew.
Hey Houston, want to actually throw the ball in? Do you need a handwritten invitation?
Go go go go go go go go go…or kick it to the goalie. That’s cool too.
This ref has been so in the way!
Please score. Please! Just something! Anything! How is everything such an almost?
And there was almost another fight!
Ball right in front of the ball twice and no goal! How?!? Why?!? I am disgusted and annoyed at Sporting’s inability to score.
So here are my takeaways from this game, and the last game, and the majority of this season.
If we can’t start scoring goals we will not make it far into the playoffs. I don’t understand how SKC can score in the US Open Cup, but not in any other game. It’s not for lack for putting the ball on goal, but it’s about getting it past the keeper. There is no excuse for what is going on. Sporting can defend, pass the ball, dominate possession, anything but score. It boggles my mind.
The defense was on it tonight. Besler came back from the Men’s National Team with a score to settle, and he was holding it down. He was getting the ball to Zusi and Medranda all night, but unfortunately, nothing came of them. Zusi was controlling the game from the wing, Ike was a commanding presence in the middle, and Lobato was alright… Dykstra did a great job tonight too. There was rarely a time when I felt the goal was threatened.
With the draw tonight, Sporting KC has officially qualified for their 7th straight playoff appearance which is the third-longest streak in the MLS. SKC fans are looking forward to the next game against RSL to hopefully clinch home-field advantage for at least the first playoff game.
INTO THE PLAYOFFS THE DUMBEST WAY POSSIBLE LETS GOOOOOO
Wednesday, September 20: 2-1 Loss (Open Cup Final)
I had to sleep on this post. A lot, it would seem.
I didn’t want to get sucked into all the “So Metro” talk leading up to the Open Cup final. The New York Red Bulls had made such a good run, defeating regional adversaries NYCFC, Philadelphia Union, and the New England Revolution. Fans reveled in the stomping out of Cinderella opponents FC Cincinnati and watched as they learned RBNY would have to face Sporting KC* in the final at Children’s Mercy Park. I was all set to attend another Watch party and celebrate a huge milestone in Red Bulls history: this was finally going to be the year the team lifted the Lamar Hunt Open Cup.
Well. Not so much.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Children’s Mercy Park is a fortress, and Sporting hasn’t lost at home all season. They weren’t looking to start anytime soon. As for me, a new job kept me super busy and prevented me from joining fans for the watch party (although I did meet a season ticket holder in my office– woop woop!). Thankfully, the Open Cup had finally garnered enough interest to be aired on ESPN2, so at least I wasn’t stuck watching on a tablet again.
I KNOW ABOUT POPULAR: SKC has now won 3 Open Cups and an MLS cup. RBNY has won 2 Supporter’s Shields, which would be huge if MLS didn’t have playoffs. Usually for me, comparing relative sizes of trophy cases is a serious turnoff. But it just can’t be helped. Both teams have history that spans the entire existence of Major League Soccer, and the Red Bulls should really have more to show for it.
I’M MELTING: There’s no other way for me to put it. Both of Sporting’s goals (Latif Blessing 25′ and Daniel Salloi 66′) came because they caught the defense sleeping. I commend RBNY coach Jesse Marsch for sticking with GK Ryan Meara as he had throughout the Open Cup run, but it just didn’t work as it should have. Alex Muyl was scrambling, Fidel Escobar was gassed. Sal Zizzo made a fatal error, and my personal favorite Damien Perrinelle didn’t even make the 18.
TRY DEFYING GRAVITY: It wasn’t as if the Red Bulls let SKC wipe the field with them. There was plenty of fight in the boys in red and white. The fact that Bradley Wright-Phillips was able to pull one back in the 91st minute shows that they didn’t give up. It may not have been enough, but I respect that it was still a lot.
So… it’s time for the team to focus on the remainder of the season. Maybe go deep through the playoffs. Plan for next year. Why then, oh why can’t we?
*If you weren’t aware, Sporting KC used to be known as the Kansas City Wiz. Between that and my penchant for musical theater, the article headings wrote themselves.