Sporting Feel Robbed at Home Again

Twice as many shots as the opposition still could not win the game for Kansas City
by Skylar Rolstad   |   Monday, September 30, 2013

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

You could have watched all 90 minutes at Sporting Park on Friday, but you really only need to know 1 thing about the Sporting KC’s 1-0 loss to Philadelphia.

19 shots for Sporting Kansas City, 8 for Philadelphia Union. 3 points for Philly, and 0 for Sporting at home. A Sporting KC team that came into this match with a lot of momentum heading into the playoffs took a nosedive into inefficiency.

The match began with a spontaneously breathtaking national anthem. When the singer Cameron Smith experienced technical difficulties with his microphone, the entire stadium bellowed out the anthem. The game, unfortunately, was not quite as special an experience for the 19,243 Sporting KC fans in attendance and tactics enthusiastic purists alike.

As usual Sporting began the match with some quick chances at goal. The most lucrative of these being Benny Feilhaber’s 25th minute shot with his instep that needed just a little more composure to find the back of the net. Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath came up huge on many occasions, including a curling free kick from Feilhaber in the 14th minute.

Most of Philadelphia’s chances came off of counter attacks, when SKC’s fullbacks ventured up the field and were not in position to get back, yet few chances actually materialized for Philly, something that can be attributed to KC’s high backline that didn’t allow passes to be made in the midfiled. Sporting were constantly plagued by an inability to play the final ball across or to have someone on the end to meet it.

Both teams featured very strange lineups in this game. John Hackworth’s Union side left Sebastien Le Toux inexplicably on the bench along with Jack McInerney, who has been off form for more than a month. Both players were 2nd half subs.

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes made several questionable changes to the typical gameday lineup. Most notably, Jacob Peterson’s inclusion in the starting lineup on the left wing in place of Soony Saad. To me, Saad’s lackluster performance in Toronto was not enough to put him out of favor. Conversely, Peterson’s impact in Toronto was not impressive enough to garner a position on the left wing.

This change may have been some experimenting with a player that may be ready to break into the lineup on the left. Neither player’s stock grew in this game, as Peterson was subbed out at halftime and Saad was brought in for him but could not make an impact on the game. A hard-working player on the attacking wing, Peterson may be a better option as a late substitute with Saad being the 90-minute player.

Another highlighted change in this match’s lineup was Ike Opara’s 2nd start in a row over Matt Besler. Besler was on the bench for the game, and after the match Vermes told the media he had been rested due to international games and consistent starts for Sporting.

After Philly had taken the lead from a poorly defended goal from only a couple yards out scored by Conor Casey, the match was expected to open up. Instead, awful midfield turnovers kept Sporting from being able to go forward with any ambition. On top of that, the Union did everything in their power to delay the match, something Vermes was livid about when speaking after the match.

“I thought we were playing Real Estelí with how many players were laying on the ground,” he said about the Union’s time-wasting late in the match. He attributed this to the referee, Riccardo Salazar, and his hesitation to show the yellow card to players that wasted time.

Feilhaber made his exit from the match in the 75th minute for Peterson Joseph. Feilhaber had some positive chances offensively, but was entirely incompetent on defense. His turnover in the midfield gave Philadelphia the mismatch that created Casey’s goal. Joseph, a defensive mid, was a strange sub to be put in the match where KC needed an offensive spark, but he’s likely the only choice from Kansas City’s bench. Not surprisingly, Joseph was more of the same in the middle, committing foul after foul and losing possession when not doing so.

Kansas City’s issue is not creating chances, but their inability to capitalize or create chances that are likely to score. Sure, 19 shots are too many to not score on at least 1, but too few of them are from inside the box or from crosses that are easy to get a head onto and score from.

Next weekend, Sporting travels to Columbus, Ohio to take on another team that should be capitalized on offensively, but is strong offensively. Coming off of a 4-2 victory in Dallas, the Crew are an explosive team offensively but have struggled in matches against Sporting this season.

NEXT UP: October 5 – Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew, Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio. 7:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

Skylar ROLSTAD

Nationality:
USA
College:
Univ. of Kansas
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
AC Milan
A student at the University of Kansas. He writes for the Sporting Kansas City club column for Soccer Newsday and is a regular at Sporting Park. His passion for soccer can best be described as unhealthy.
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