Sunday, April 03, 2011

Two Points Pissed Away

I thought given 12-14 hours after the game I would have calmed down about the result of the game, but I'm still frustrated with the result. Sporting KC pissed away two points yesterday, surrendering a 3 goal lead in the final 20 minutes, 2 in second half stoppage time to go from a 3-0 lead to a 3-3 draw. Games like this are games that a team has to shut the door on. Maybe as a Wizards fan I've become a little spoiled from the Bunker Bob days when you knew that KC would lock the game down especially with a 3-0 lead. But KC wasn't able to do that, and now I'm going to continue to be called Mr. Negative by Robb Heineman just like I was on Friday at the First Friday tailgate at the team's front office. Sorry Robb but you're going to get more negative today as that draw felt like a loss.

Vancouver came out as the more impressive side early on and for much of the first half, but KC had one of the best chances early on as Davy Arnaud ripped a shot from about 25 yards out that Jay Nolly had to tip over the bar for a corner. Jimmy Nielsen though was the star of the half, called on to save the day multiple times for KC. And in the first half he was more than up to the task as Vancouver continually found space in front of KC's defense to get shots off. The Whitecaps forward line of Atiba Harris and Camilo caused plenty of trouble for KC's defensive line and forced Nielsen into many saves along with the rest of the Whitecaps team. Way too often yesterday Julio Cesar got turned around or gave too much space to Camilo and only good saves by Nielsen kept Vancouver off the board.

Even with Vancouver controlling play, KC still got their chances. The best came from Teal Bunbury, who just before stoppage curled a nice shot just wide of the post. Only a minute or so later on the opposite side of the field Bunbury had the same opportunity and this time he curled it into the side netting giving KC a half time lead.

In the second half KC stepped up their game from the start and about 10 minutes in KC has doubled their lead. Milso Stojcev played a nice ball through to Bunbury. Bunbury raced onto the pass, cut back on his defender and then fired past Nolly to give KC a 2-0 lead. Only four minutes after Bunbury's goal KC found themselves up 3-0. CJ Sapong raced down the left wing and fired in a cross on the ground. Kei Kamara ran onto it and fired it into the far post with a hard, low shot. The lead at this point looked insurmountable for the Whitecaps and the Wizards looked on their way to a big away game early in the season. Unfortunately things didn't hold up. The Whitecaps made some good substitutions and Sporting KC's defense finally gave in. A great run by substitute Nizar Khalfan down the right led to the first goal in the 73rd minute. The run started in Vancouver's own half on a give and go, Michael Harrington was unable to keep up with Khalfan and his cross into the middle was turned into the goal by Harris to get Vancouver back into the game.

Things seemed to really go down hill for KC play wise once Davy Arnaud subbed out in the 76th minute. KC's midfield won very little in the midfield once Arnaud subbed out. Stephane Auvray was unable to help KC cut down on Vancouver's midfield control. By the end of the game, KC had 3 d-mids on the field as Craig Rocastle came in for Stojcev, but KC still could not get control of the midfield. KC withstood most of the pressure for the rest of the game though, including the introduction of Davide Chiumiento, who didn't start due to injury. But in stoppage time things fell apart and fell apart quickly for KC. Some how Chiumiento got left wide open by Roger Espinoza and Sapong on the left side for KC. Chiumiento had plenty of space to look up and pick out Camilo who fired the ball past Nielsen to make it 3-2. A minute later and Vancouver was level. Khalfan played a great cross into the box to Camilo who jumped while Espinoza looked to have cement on his legs and headed the ball past Nielsen to tie the game. And even after that play, KC almost improbably lost the game as Khalfan had a late chance that he fired just wide of Nielsen's post.

Basic defensive errors and an inability to close down a game, it was a calamity of errors for KC in stoppage time, poor marking, poor defending, just a poor effort overall. Peter Vermes needs to get this defense worked out and get it worked out quickly because the road trip only gets tougher from here on out. KC showed extremely well going forward, but the defense is in shambles right now. Harrington looks like he hasn't played a competitive games in a few weeks (which he hasn't), Espinoza's form early on has been poor, Matt Besler has had to try and hold together a makeshift defense at times, and Julio Cesar gave his man way too much space and time too often yesterday. Unless Aurelien Collin is a superman the defense is going to leak goals all season.

Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Nielsen - You don't see a goalkeeper win man of the match often when they give up three goals, but Nielsen absolutely deserves it for his performance yesterday. Nielsen stood on his head at times making some great saves, his defense just let him down too often, and you could tell just how upset he was with the defensive play.

Honorable mention - Teal Bunbury

Player Ratings - Nielsen 7, Harrington 3, Besler 3, Julio Cesar 3, Espinoza 3, Stojcev 5, Arnaud 5, Diop 5, Kamara 6, Bunbury 7, Sapong 5. Subs Auvray 3, Thomas 3, Rocaslte NR.


James S said...

And you Nielsen only got a 7 ... I think it was the best performance we have seen from him and I can't imagine any other goalkeeper in the world keeping the three out that he let in :)

Gooch and I said similar things on our Podcast, dunno if you have listened but we cover the same territory pretty tightly at times.

Rob Swenson said...

Spot on.

Drew Farmer said...

If it wasn't for Nielsen in the first 25-30 mins SKC would have been down 2-0 early. If Heineman calls you Mr. Negative, it's probably b/c he has no idea how to put a football team together. The defence again showed that it is awful. The team is uneven, stacked too heavily up front. The defence couldn't deal with Vancouver's flair players. Julio Cesar has no pace and can't deal with the quick and physical MLS strikers. This is just like Pablo Escobar's signing last season.
Stojcev, Sapong and Bunbury were fantastic, however. Bunbury's run and Stojcev's pass into him for the second goal was as good as it gets. Sporting has scored 8 goals in 3 matches, great, but they've also given up 8. They're lucky to have 4 points out of 9 with this defence. This isn't going to be sorted out quickly, unless they bring someone in. But good luck with that. In each game the SKC defence has been to score more than the opposition. That only works on FIFA.

Finally, this game was a great ad for the league and some good attacking football. It felt like a cup final in the last 10 mins.

Anonymous said...

Nielsen had a hell of a game, and was understandably pissed-off at the end. All of his hard work was completely undone by amateur-hour errors, and the final score-line doesn't do his effort justice.

Is there a fitness issue from being on the road so much? The team really seemed to run out of gas toward the end of regulation, and it lead to poor possession in the midfield and poor marking when Vancouver pressured.

The frustrating thing about SKC so far is just how predictable their play has been. We all knew Teal, Kai, and CJ would be awesome up top, but that the back line is the Achilles heel. It's unfortunate that Julio Cesar doesn't appear to be up for the physical style of MLS. I can only hope that Drew's comparison to Pablo Escobar doesn't pan out.

Anonymous said...

I guess I would have to agree with you asessment "mr negativity". At the end of last season we were promissed an improvement in the backline, specifically the center backs. All we got was an old/slow La Liga retread. We actually got a lot worse over the offseason with the loss of Leathers and Conrad and only the addition of Cesar. All the new toys were added to improve the offense (Bravo, Sapong, Stojcev). The faith in Vermes seems misplaced. Diop as a holding midfielder? Meyers as a right back? His emphasis is on high pressure attacking soccer...esentially outscoring the opposition. How many teams that play this style win championships? The only band-aid to save this defense is to trade some offensive tallent (Smith, Kamara, Diop) for some decent defenders. And emploing a holding mid-fielder as a stopper.

Nathan Martin said...

Everybody does seem way too negative, way too early. There are 31 games and a transfer window to decide how good this team is or is not.

An upgrade in the defensive midfield seems to be needed as much as any position on the field. I like Auvary's quickness and Rocastle's physicality, but both fall short in possession passing to relieve pressure off the backline.

The fact that fans are complaining about the games being too exciting because of end-to-end scoring chances is ridiculuous. I have seen nothing yet that precludes this team from having an entertaining and successful season.

Jeff H said...

While it was disappointing result, there are definitely positives. Overall, offense is looking good, ball possession is good, spirit is good(except last 20min of Vancouver). Defensive backline clearly needs to be tightened up. Last year it was finishing and backline. Now make some adjustments and drill on the defensive in training. Nielsen is the Man. Defensive will step up!

MOUFWASH said...

Diop plays that 3rd midfielder role better than Auvray or Rocastle.

Unknown said...

I can't wait for this weeks podcast. It should be good.