Sunday, April 24, 2011

Defense Falters Again

Sporting KC performed better than they did last weekend against Columbus, the offense looked better, but in the end the old defensive problems came back up as KC fell to New England 3-2. A little bit of a surprise heading into the game was that Peter Vermes only made one change from the lineup that looked uninspiring in Columbus. That was insertion of Aurelien Collin in the place of Julio Cesar.

From the start KC looked to be playing better, but it was actually New England that grabbed the lead. After Collin pushed wide to cover Rajko Lekic, Lekic crossed the ball into the box. Michael Harrington didn't get enough on his clearance only getting it as far as the debuting Benny Feilhaber. Fielhaber touched the ball back to Marko Perovic. Perovic one timed his shot from about 25 yards past a diving Jimmy Nielsen. Kanasas City responded well though to the goal, as Kei Kamara beat Matt Reis with a shot low to the near post after he turned Didier Domi. KC continued to push to try and find a second goal. Davy Arnaud had the best chance to grab the lead on a quick counter. Harrington raced down the wing and squared a ball into the middle for Arnaud. Arnaud's shot though was knocked away by Reis for a corner.

In the second half both sides continued to push the game. KC looked the team that was more likely to score the second goal with some decent build up play but not being able to really test the Revolution keeper. In the 68th minute the game turned a bit when Teal Bunbury was brought down in the box by Kevin Alston. The penalty call was certainly questionable as the ball was out of play before Bunbury was even fouled. But the penalty was called and Kamara stepped up and buried it giving KC the 2-1 lead. But as with New England's first goal when KC responded quickly, New England did the same. A free kick from Kenny Mansally was headed over Nielsen and into the net by Sharlie Joseph in the 72nd to tie the game at 2-2. Joseph beat KC's goalscorer Kamara to the header on that play. Shortly after the tying goal, KC found themselves down a man as Collin was red carded for a shove to Feilhaber. The lead up to the card saw KC with a corner kick. Collin went up to try to head the ball against Revs goalkeeper, Reis. The two collided in air and both hit the ground. Feilhaber took exception to the challenge and got into Collin's face as he got to his feet. In that process Feilhaber was shoved. Referee, Edvin Jurisevic thought it was enough to give the Frenchman a red card. Don't expect to see a highlight of that on MLS' website as the red card challenge is no where to be found in the match highlights unlike other red cards in the league. But it didn't appear that it was actually Collin that shoved the US national team player.

KC tried to hold out a man down inserting Shavar Thomas into the center of defense with Besler to try and keep the point, but it ended up being Thomas who was beat on the deciding goal. Zak Boggs played a ball into the box where Lekic had slowed his run, losing Thomas and headed the ball past Nielsen to give the Revs the winner. After the goal KC wasn't really able to mount much of an attack in the final 7 minutes to get themselves back in the game. Even the late insertion of Ryan Smith was unable to give KC an offensive burst to find another equalizer.

It'd be easy to blame the referee on this one, but I can't really do that. KC was gifted their second goal on a very iffy penalty call. The red card while worse in the long run was a poor call as well. This comes after I had thought that the referee had actually had a fairly solid first half, he'd been able to control the game while also letting guys play. So it was one questionable call each way for both teams.

No, my complaint continues to be our poor work at improving our center of defense in the offseason. Collin may be that answer but really needs to learn more about how to play in the league and what he can get away with as he was already on a yellow when he received the straight red and certainly looked like a good bet to get a second the way he was playing. Unfortunately with the way that Cesar and Thomas have played this season it basically forced Peter Vermes hand into starting the Frenchman.

Wizards Man of the Match - Kei Kamara - A brace for the man from Sierra Leone, he's now tied with Bunbury for the team lead in goals with three now. The offense continues to shoot on all cylinders (the Columbus game aside), and the defense continues to bring more questions than answers.

Player Ratings - Nielsen 4, Harrington 4, Collin 4, Besler 4, Espinoza 5, Diop 4, Arnaud 5, Stojcev 5, Kamara 6, Bunbury 5, Sapong 5. Subs Zusi 4, Thomas 3, Smith NR.


Drew said...

There's a potential for 30 points from the 10 match road start. Can they pick up at least 10 (1/3 of the points?)? Right now I think not.
On Lekik's header there was no marking on Zack Boggs when he made the cross. The fullback was a good 15-yards away while the midfielder that gave up his marking to the fullback and was 20-25 yards away jogging back. One of the first rules of defending is stop the ball which KC has a problem doing.
There was no running/hustle/try on that play. The midfield and attackers seem to have the same mentality as an U-11's side would have: I'm not going to track back someone else will do it for me. The same thing happened in Vancouver this season.
I hate to alway hark on this, but in Europe the manager would be held accountable for the team he has put together and the way they play. Many managers would have been sacked already. It's different in MLS, and with the play-off system teams aren't quick to fire managers.
Vermes can get more out of these players. They're not closing down the man with the ball and they're losing the man they're marking too easily. They're not doing the little things. Kei Kamara may have scored two goals, but his marking in the box on Shalrie Joesph's goal was pathetic. More importantly, why was Kamara given the responsibility of marking Joesph? Should have been a bigger/stronger midfielder.
Again I hold Vermes responsible. I still believe a change in formation will enable this team to bear down more. They'll still get their 1-2 goals a game, but hopefully another centeral midfielder will take the pressure off the back four. The gaps between the midfield and back four are too big. Every team will expect to take a point from KC this season with this defence. Despite only four points it's still early days, and hopefully they can get a good run of form at home. Is the 10-game road trip to blame as well? I think so. It'd help to have one or two games in front of home support. If this team is in last place I can't imagine the casual fan home support being very good in Aug despite a new stadium.

Ryan said...

I want to start off by saying I enjoy reading down the byline as you as unbiased as a fan can be and I respect that. We didn't deserve the penalty, Collin didn't deserve the RED, and they have been plaguing us game after game, though I don't think this is the main reason for loss.

I'd have to say I was certainly very disappointed with this game, and mostly with the MLS officiating. I actually respected Collin's intensity to the game, which sadly is something that the MLS ref's are not allowing. I feel every player in the game is having to hold back at all times from their full potential for fear of being sent off. Every tackle in the box makes you cringe, and tighten up with anticipation of a foul just for being a tackle in the box. The sad things is that the fans are so lost in officiating, and this is exactly what turns people off from the beautiful game. It's hard for people to know what the rules are when fouls seem to be on the feeling of a ref at that moment instead of what he actually may have seen. The ref's are becoming the stars of the league. Sadly there is also a poor display of sportsmanship and some players really just have rocks for brains. Example, Harrington who got a yellow for throwing a player to the ground by tugging his kit, then immediately tugs on his kit again seconds later. WHAT?!

I'd have to disagree with the ratings a bit. Kamara though having two goals, I felt like was a bit winded all game. Clearly the team didn't have much chemistry in the midfield most of the game and little service to the front. I don't understand always pulling out stojcev and throwing zusi in his place. Why not Zusi for Diop? I digress though as I'm not a manager of the team nor am I a pro. Just some strange choices at times.

Good stuff you're doing here. Cheers.


MOUF said...

I dont get your ratings, how did Milo do anything to warrant a value about maybe 2?

David said...

Officiating was bad again. But that is a poor excuse for poor execution. Our manager is and has been a failure. It still goes back to his drafting -- why pick another forward when we clearly need defensive help? Collin had an OK debut. Did anyone see Harrington simply pass that ball to Feilhaber? I refuse to admit that guy is any better than a substitute. I can't stand watching him get beaten over and over again.

Nathan Martin said...

I still think that the main source of weakness has been the defensive midfield position, not the center backs. The gap between the midfield and the back four has to be resolved somehow if this team wants to contend.

Also I was really looking forward to seeing if Peter Vermes might try out a 4-4-2 with Smith on the field but the red card nixed that.

Sapong - Bunbury

Smith - Zusi - Arnaud - Kamara