I showed up at LiveSTRONG Sporting Park yesterday and couldn't take the smile off my face, everything to do with the stadium just made me smile. Then the game started...
It was the same Sporting KC we'd seen for much of this season, struggling to create offensively, but prone to a few defensive mistakes. Last night it didn't cost KC as they got a 0-0 draw after going down to 10 men against the Chicago Fire. And should have gotten a 1-0 win if it wasn't for Michael Kennedy proving once again to be the bane of KC soccer fans when he didn't award a penalty for a horrible challenge on Omar Bravo.
Chicago had the first good chance of the game in the 9th minute on a quick counter. Dominic Oduro raced into KC's half, then laid the ball behind Gaston Puerari. Puerari recovered, played the ball back for a sliced shot that fell to Corbon Bone, who cut inside and fired a shot that Jimmy Nielsen did well to save. In the 15th, KC thought they'd grabbed the lead and Graham Zusi thought he'd written his name into the history books with the first goal at the new stadium. Kei Kamara did well to turn and beat his man down the wing and fired a low cross into the box where Bravo and Zusi were arriving. Bravo got a touch on it and Zusi finished it, but Bravo had been offside when Kamara played his initial ball.
Zusi had another chance in the 28th after a combination play with Teal Bunbury, but fired his shot from 25 yards out just over the bar. Shortly after that Nielsen was once again called upon to make a decent save low to the corner on a snap header. Late in the first half, Bravo had a great chance off of cross, but flubbed the header and it went harmlessly to Johnson.
In the second half half, KC seemed to begin to gain more control over the game, but really failed to test Sean Johnson in the Chicago goal. Then in the 67th minute, Oduro again got played in behind Michael Harrington and the KC defense. Nielsen raced off his line and as Oduro tried to chip the ball over him Nielsen got a hand up and knocked the ball away. Unfortunately for Nielsen he was outside the box. Kennedy produced a straight red and down to 10 men, Peter Vermes pulled Teal Bunbury to get Eric Kronberg on the field to take up position in goal. As oddly happens when a team goes down to 10 men, KC controlled the game still, but Chicago hit hard on the counter and should have produced a goal. A long shot by Daniel Paladini was not held at all by Kronberg. The rebound fell to Orr Barouch, who one timed his shot past Kronberg, but right into the bar saving KC.
KC should have had their penalty in the 85th minute. Birahim Diop headed on a goal kick from Kronberg into the path of Zusi. Zusi flicked the ball into the box for Bravo who was cutting in towards goal. Bratislav Ristic immediately went to ground trying to get the ball. At most the Fire defender got the slightest of touches, but mainly Ristic went right through Bravo to get the ball. Kennedy didn't even seemed concerned with the play as the boos (and eventually bottles and other objects) rained down. Virtually everyone but Kennedy both in the stadium and those who've commented to me later have said it was a penalty that should have given KC a chance to win. Instead it left Bravo in a heap and only really able to continue because KC was out of substitutes. After 9 minutes of stoppage time due to injuries, the red card, a stupid streaker in a cow costume (that absolutely deserved the tackle he got by the security guy), what in the end was a very poor game finally ended. KC's winless streak reached 10 games, but they're on a 3 game unbeaten run now (queue the search for optimism).
WIZARDS Man of the Match - Aurelien Collin - A strong game by the Frenchman to shutdown the Fire's attack. Did good standing up opposing offensive players throughout the night.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Myers 5, Collin 7, Besler 6, Harrington 4, Sassano 5, Arnaud 5, Zusi 5, Bravo 6, Bunbury 4, Kamara 5. Subs Sapong 6, Kronberg 5, Diop NR