Sunday, April 15, 2012

We're the Best in the League... For Now

photo courtesy of Jarred Donalson
Last night, KC proved, at least for now, that they are the best team in the league, with a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. The win moves KC to 6-0 with 18 points, and an 8 point advantage on second place New York in the East. The two top teams in the league went toe to toe last night, and KC almost made it through another game without a shot on goal. If not for one in second half stoppage time (that was actually offside, but the flag was waived off cause Jimmy Nielsen caught it), it'd have been 3 straight games without a shot on goal by Kansas City's opponents. KC continues to do a great job of disrupting teams' offenses in their defensive half of the field. Salt Lake had some decent possession, but had trouble breaking down KC when they got into their half of the field.

KC controlled much of the early possession, but chances were hard to come by for KC. There were a few half chances, but overall, the game was played mainly in the midfield. RSL had trouble connecting passes, Roger Espinoza and Julio Cesar did a good job of breaking up the midfield play of Kyle Beckerman and Luis Gil. KC's controlling play earned them quite a few corners, but Bobby Convey and Graham Zusi seemed intent on playing all their corners to the back side. And each time the corner seemed to get played too long. Late on in the half it appeared that KC had grabbed the lead as Convey played a lofted ball to the back post for CJ Sapong. Sapong rose and looped a header over Nick Rimando and into the net. Referee, Kevin Stott, though waived off the call, saying the Jamison Olave had been fouled by Sapong on the play. Upon replay it appeared more like Olave was doing his cliff diving impersonation. KC went into the half tied 0-0 in a half that lacked some excitement.

KC kept the pressure up in the second half still looking for an opener. Kei Kamara raced in behind RSL's defense, but got pulled back by Will Johnson. Johnson earned himself a yellow and KC got a dangerous free kick. Roger Espinoza stepped up and took the free kick, driving it low, under the wall to the near post where Sapong met it. Sapong though turned the shot just to the outside of the near post keeping the game 0-0. KC continued to push the game, spending much of the time in KC's half. Zusi almost got a nice look on goal after getting played in behind by Kamara, but Olave did a good job of recovering and knocking the ball out for a corner. Unfortunately for RSL, on the ensuing corner, KC took the lead. Zusi found Aurelien Collin totally unmarked at the back post and Collin headed past Rimando to make it 1-0 KC. Collin's mark, Alvaro Saborio basically stood there as Collin ran by and headed in the goal. KC continued to push and in the 75th almost scored off another corner. Zusi picked out Kamara in the middle of the box, but Kamara's strong header was very well saved by Rimando to keep Salt Lake in the game. Late on, KC started conceding more possession to RSL and sitting further back. This allowed Salt Lake to get more chances, but didn't test Nielsen until a header by Nat Borchers was easily saved.

Wizards Man of the Match - Aurelien Collin - Collin did a very good job of containing Fabian Espindola throughout the game and grabbed the winner thanks to some very lax marking by RSL. Collin continues to really control the center of the park for KC in defense.

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

1 comment:

Nathan Martin said...

With such a good start in hand, I'd like to see backups slowly rotate in for starters, one or two at a time.

Cesar will probably get some rest by way of Nagamura this week, but I also think that a result in Portland would provide the opportunity for Bunbury to shoulder some of CJ's workload.

Saad probably needs to get some rhythm before Kamara's national team duty later this year. (,etc...)

Peter Vermes seems to like to keep his lineups unchanged when the results are coming, so maybe it will take the perfect streak to end, but it is definitely time according to post-game body language to give the players a rest.