Sporting KC picked up a point on the road last night down in Houston, in a 1-1 draw with the Dynamo. Read that statement on it's own and you'd think that was a good result for the Wizards in a location that they haven't played well in over their history. But when you explain that KC played up a man for about 20 minutes, and played up 2 men for 20 minutes, 40 minutes with a numerical advantage, then the draw loses a lot of it's luster. Still I don't know many people that were expecting a draw out of this game in the first place. Yes not getting all 3 points is a disappointment, but the one point is a point that many people didn't expect.
Once again KC allowed the first goal of the game, an 8th minute strike from Brad Davis off of a free kick. Davis fired the free kick over the four man wall and past Jimmy Nielsen and into the net. You could fault Nielsen a little bit on the play as the ball went just under Nielsen's hands, but Nielsen did a good job of making it across the goal to even have a chance at it. He had to be at least a little mindful of the cross to the back post. Graham Zusi forced a decent save out of Tally Hall shortly after Davis' goal after Zusi got in behind the defense. But while Zusi forced the save and earned the corner, he likely would have been better off firing the ball across the middle towards CJ Sapong and Omar Bravo and hope for a deflection or one of them to finish it. Houston continued to push for a second as KC struggled to go forward throughout the rest of the first half, but the KC defense was able to hold onto the lead.
In the 51st minute the game changed. Houston midfielder, Collin Clark lost the ball to Roger Espinoza, the ball made it's way to Aurelien Collin, immediately Clark came flying in for a challenge two footed, with his studs up, missed the ball and scissored Collin's leg. After some of the other challenges this season, it wasn't totally surprising that Kevin Stott immediately pulled out the red card and sent Clark off. It was a stupid challenge by the Dynamo midfielder. After the red card, KC started to take more control of the match, Sapong had an effort turned away by Hall at the near post shortly after the red card, and KC continued to attack. While KC continued to push the game, that left them susceptible to the counter and Houston tried to capitalize on that. In the 69th minute, the ball was deep in KC's end, Brian Ching tried to cut inside on Collin, but his touch was too heavy and Collin got to the ball first as Collin was sheparding the ball away from Ching and then played the ball away, Ching took kicked out at Collin, not getting the ball and taking the Frenchman down. Once again, Stott immediately went to his pocket and pulled out another red card, this one for the Dynamo captain. With the two man advantage though, KC still couldn't find an equalizer, either due to poor finishing or good goalkeeping by Hall in the Dynamo net. Even Collin stopped an effort, as he was on the ground after he had a shot saved when Sapong's rebound shot deflected off of him before being skied over by Matt Besler. In the 90th minute, KC finally broke through, with Collin silencing the boo birds in Houston who had been booing him as he'd been the player fouled on both of the Dynamo's red cards. After Roger Espinoza received a throw in from Bravo, Espinoza laid the ball off to Collin about 25 yards from Collin. His shot took a deflection on the way through, wrong footing Hall (the only time all night) and it rolled into the net for the equalizer. Unfortunately KC wasn't able to capitalize on the man advantage again to find a winner.
Definitely a mixed result for KC, the draw is nice, but the circumstances surrounding the how KC got the result are the frustrating part. Playing up at least a man for about 40 minutes and only getting one goal is incredibly frustrating, the offense continues to struggle and has averaged only a goal a game for about the last 14 games. Why Peter Vermes 1) only used one substitute was puzzling, yes other than Teal Bunbury the offensive subs were the fairly ineffective Milos Stojcev and the young Soony Saad, but getting fresh legs to run at a the tired Houston defense could have made the difference and 2) why he waited for 10 minutes after Ching's red card to make a sub. With Houston down two men, the game screamed for an immediate sub to put more offense on the field to push the game more at Houston, but Vermes didn't make the change until the 80th. I'd have had Bunbury, Stojcev or Saad up at the midfield line as soon as possible after seeing Stott produce a red for Ching.
WIZARDS Man of the Match - Aurelien Collin - If it was a key moment in the game last night, Collin was involved. He caused the foul that led to Davis' goal, he drew the two red cards on Houston and scored the equalizer. A busy game for the Frenchman who is quickly developing a cult following among KC supporters.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Myers 6, Collin 7, Besler 5, Harrington 5, Diop 4, Espinoza 6, Zusi 6, Bravo 5, Sapong 5, Kamara 5. Subs Bunbury 5.