Friday, April 20, 2012

Still Perfect

Seven is heaven. Last night in Vancouver, Sporting Kansas City was able to extend their lead a top not only the Eastern conference but all of MLS, with a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. A crowd of Cauldron/Sporting KC fans traveled to Vancouver for the game, with close to 70 traveling for the game, a number that would have been considered a good home attendance Cauldron only about 7 years ago, as the section has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years.

The early going of the game saw a very hectic going. Neither team really was able to get much meaningful possession or really about to test the other side. Of the two teams though, it was KC that had the better of the play in the early going. When Vancouver did try to strike on the counter, Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler did a good job of breaking down Vancouver's attacks. And when the ball made it through, Jimmy Nielsen did a good job of getting off his line to collect. In the 24th minute, despite the lackluster start, KC grabbed the lead through Aurelien Collin. After a long corner came to nothing, the ball was played back wide to Graham Zusi, whose ball back into the middle was only partially cleared to Roger Espinoza. Espinoza's shot deflected off of CJ Sapong into the path of Collin, who poked the ball hoom in front of Jay DeMerit to give KC the 1-0 lead. After the goal, Vancouver started to get more of the ball, and Sebastien Le Toux had a good opportunity for an equalizer off a header, but Jimmy Nielsen made a simple save. Gershon Koffie had another good chance when Atiba Harris beat Seth Sinovic down the left and laid the ball back to Koffie, but he fired well over the bar. In the 39th, KC had another good chance, as Roger Espinoza broke down the left he found Kei Kamara, but Kamara's header was high and wide of the net. Late in the first half, KC fans felt Eric Hassli was lucky to stay on the field. After picking up a yellow for a kick at Kamara, Hassli kicked out at Collin, but only got a yellow. KC went into the half though up 1-0.

To start the second half, Vancouver came out and controlled the start of the game, bringing the game to Kansas City. On one of KC's chances early on though they doubled their lead. After CJ Sapong did well to force a deep throw in, Matt Besler set up a second goal. Besler's long throw in went towards Collin, but Martin Bonjour directed the throw in past Joe Cannon and into his own net to make it 2-0 KC. Shortly after the goal, Nielsen made his best save of the game, on a shot by his own player, Sinovic. Sinvoic was trying to clear a cross, and instead directed the ball on goal. The ball was looping over Nielsen who was able to get back and knock the ball over the bar for a corner. KC let Vancouver bring the attack to them more and tried to hit on the counter. Kei Kamara had a good chance that he put over the bar, and then Zusi himself had a good chance as he cut inside on both Vancouver defenders, but he too put the shot over the bar. In the 65th minute, KC made it 3-0. Kamara won the ball out wide and fed to Chance Myers. Myers played the ball into the middle, where Kamara had continued his run and he flicked the ball past Cannon to make it 3-0.

At 3-0 you would mostly feel safe, but after last year in Vancouver, KC fans had to feel concerned about KC's leading considering last year in Vancouver, KC blew a 3-0 lead to tie 3-3. And after KC took the 3-0 lead this year, they started to site back more and let Vancouver bring the game to them more. Vancouver took advantage of this and started to really bring it. KC's defense had to be on the game late on as Nielsen was forced to make a number of big saves. In the 79th minute Vancouver found a bit of a life line through Le Toux. A cross into the box found Camilo, whose header hit the cross bar, but Le Toux followed and headed into the net to make it 3-1. Nielsen went crazy, immediately running at the AR, believing that Le Toux was offside, but Myers had kept the Frenchman onside. And all of the sudden KC fans were starting to worry about a repeat of last year. For the last 10 minute, Vancouver bombarded KC's goal. Camilo forced another good save out of Nieslen. Nielsen continued to have a response to other efforts from Vancouver, including a good save on Long Tan. KC continued to hold strong defensively though as the rest of the defense stepped up. In the end, it was enough as KC held on to keep a repeat of last year from happening.

Wizards Man of the Match - Aurelein Collin - The Frenchman did a great job of shutting down his fellow country men, Hassli and Le Toux. Combine that with getting a goal, and you can't argue with his performance.

Honorable mention: Jimmy Nielsen

Player Ratings - Nielsen 8, Myers 7, Besler 7, Collin 8, Sinovic 6, Nagamura 6, Espinoza 7, Zusi 7, Kamara 6, Sapong 6, Convey 5. Subs Peterson 5, Bunbury 5, Olum 5.

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