Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Offense Awakens

When the lineup for tonight's game against FC Dallas was announced, I don't know if there were many fans, if any, predicting a point, let alone all three as Sporting KC took it to FC Dallas, winning 4-1, even though they played the last 30 plus minutes down a man. With virtually only 18 players healthy, or not with their national team, KC looked set to continue their long winless run, while Dallas looked set to extend their own unbeaten run to 10 games.

KC though came out from the start and took the game to Dallas, causing some problems early on set pieces and on long runs into the box. Off an early corner, CJ Sapong headed wide of the post on a diving header and Graham Zusi tested Kevin Hartman in the 17th with a stinging shot that Hartman pushed onto the post. Milos Stojcev also tested Hartman with a blast from the top of the box, that Hartman tipped up into the air and caught the rebound. In the 28th minute, KC grabbed a deserved lead through Zusi. Birahim Diop started a counter, finding Davy Arnaud in the middle of the field. Arnaud continued to switch finding Zusi. Zusi dribbled at Zach Loyd, cut inside and fired a shot past Hartman and into the net giving KC the 1-0 lead, their first since going up 1-0 on LA on May 14th. But the lead only lasted 4 minutes as the team's defensive errors popped back up. Brek Shea received the ball about 40 yards from goal, avoided a sliding Diop, and Stojcev seemed to decide to just watch him run. Aurelien Collin was the next to slide, completely missing Shea, finally Chance Myers got turned as Shea cut by. Shea then slotted the ball past Eric Kronberg in goal, leveling the game at 1-1. Kevin Stott had a busy first half, handing out 4 yellow cards, including 3 to Sporting KC players Collin, Seth Sinovic, and Stojcev.

In the second half, KC started things quickly from a corner kick. Zusi played in a corner to the back post. Sapong did well to knock the ball back into the middle where Collin knocked the ball home to give KC the lead again 2-1. The corner was the result of what appeared to be rehearsed set plays that KC tried throughout the game, play the ball to the back post and then get it back across the middle. On this goal it was executed perfectly by all 3 players involved in the play. And KC made it 3 shortly after the second goal. After a hand ball on Dallas just inside Dallas' half, Zusi stepped up, saw Hartman cheating a little bit for the ball into the box and let fly with an absolute rocket that hit the back of the net and rebounded back out from 50 yards out. An amazing goal that any other week would have easily been goal of the week.

Only after Zusi's rocket, KC found themselves down a man again after Stojcev picked up his second yellow of the game for a stupid challenge from behind on Marvin Chavez. A yellow on the play may have been a little harsh, but the challenge was silly and totally ill advised. Down a man though, Kansas City was still able to create chances and should have extended their lead. Sapong and Zusi had a 2 on 2 break, where Sapong had drawn both defenders but did not play the ball to Zusi who was on the hattrick at the time. A little later, substitute, Kei Kamara had a chance, but Jackson made a great sliding tackle to steal the ball away. KC though did find a fourth goal through Luke Sassano in the 78th. After a goal kick by Kronberg, the ball found it's way to the feet of Diop who played a nice little ball over the top to Sassano. Sassano reached the ball before the onrushing Hartman and touched it over him. The ball looped into the net making it 4-1. KC held on and grabbed their second league win of the season. A result that should give all kinds of confidence to the team heading into Friday's game at home against San Jose, who defeated DC United 4-2 on the weekend.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Graham Zusi - Two goals and an assist for Zusi, a splendid performance. If not for Sapong being unable to get the ball to Zusi on the 2v2, Zusi could have gotten a hattrick. He even played the ball to Diop that set up the fourth goal tonight. If not for Eric Hassli's wonder strike his free kick would be the odds on favorite for goal of the week. And if not for Steven Lenhart's hattrick, Zusi would be wrapping up player of the week as well.

Honorable Mention - CJ Sapong

Player Ratings - Kronberg 6, Sinovic 6, Collin 7, Besler 7, Myers 6, Sassano 7, Diop 6, Arnaud 7, Zusi 9, Sapong 8, Stojcev 4. Subs Kamara 5, Cesar 5, Bunbury NR.


Ron Bishop said...

This is the kind of depth we must have to be winners - and the more the team wins, the more the team plays with playoffs, US Open Cup, Champions, players called up for National Teams, etc so let's get that cycle going!

Mouf said...

Really thought the more 4 5 1 helped, actually played into space and made runs off the ball, our wings arent moving much in usual formation and line up

Anonymous said...

Yes, the formation change appears to be just what the team needed. Also, I've been giving Zusi a lot of shit this season, but he was sublime last night. I hope he keeps it up.

Anonymous said...

Is it a coincidence that the starting lineup was sans a number of our "marquee" players and they thumped the second ranked team in the stronger West Conference, while being a man down? I think not. What we saw was a talented group of players who were playing for each other, not the record books or themselves. I'm not saying that this should be our lineup for the rest of the season, but for this team to have a prayer of pulling off a successful season, there needs to be a mindset change in some of the regular starters. This is not tennis or golf where it is all about you. This is a team game in every sense of the word, and to be successful that is how it has to be played. GO SPORTING KC! Zusi was freakin awesome! You have won me as a fan.

David said...

I agree about the marquee players being out. Bunbury needed a break, something to kickstart him hopefully. I don't mind seeing (this year's) Myers and Sinovic in for Espinoza and Harrington (who I absolutely hate). Smith will be back and then we can keep Stojcev where he should always be, the bench. It was nice to see this rout!

Drew said...

Who has that team in Sporting blue? What a surprise! They were never suited for a 4-3-3 and it's nice to see Vermes come to his senses and make a change and get a result. The team looked fantastic in the 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1 and played the counter beautifully, they're suited for this type of formation and play. Though FCD didn't offer much going forward the four man midfield helped to pack it in better for the team.
Zusi shows once again MLS is a league that average soccer players with a workmen like attitude/effort can shine. I've been impressed with him for much of the year and he has looked just as good, if not better than Bunbury and Bravo. Bunbury's hype went to his head, like Jozy Altidore's. A note for FCD, it's ridiculous that they tried to make Brek Shea a central defender when he can dribble through and score on a defense like he did against Sporting.