A few weeks ago when Sporting KC defeated Colorado and advanced to the US Open Cup quarterfinals to play Dayton, I said that I would be willing to sacrifice the game against the Union to guarantee passage to the USOC semifinals. When I said that I didn't expect that KC would literally lie down for the Union at PPL Park, I just expected that Sporting would sit back and prepare for Dayton.
I got the former of those two options, as Sporting KC laid an egg last night, falling to their worst defeat in the Peter Vermes era, 4-0 to Philadelphia. It's KC's worst loss since the 6-0 loss to Dallas that ended up costing Curt Onalfo his job. Things started out going horribly wrong for KC as on the very first attack of the game, Philadelphia grabbed the lead. A long ball over the top to Raymon Gaddis caught Seth Sinovic up field. Gaddis played a ball across the box that Aurelien Collin let go past him, and Jimmy Nielsen made a half hearted dive at. The ball made it through to the back post where Lionard Pajoy was. Pajoy touched the ball back into the middle keeping it in bounds. Following the play was Jack McInerney, and with the midfield no where to be found, McInerney came in unmarked and buried the rebound to make it 1-0 Philadelphia.
After the goal for the Union, KC had control of more possession, but really it was the Union that created the better chances, forcing Nielsen to punch away one effort, and seeing another effort flash wide of the post. KC's best effort fell to Julio Cesar off a Graham Zusi corner. In an attempt to recreate his goal from last week though, Cesar whiffed on the ball twice before the Philadelphia defense recovered. Late in the first half, Philadelphia struck again and once again it was McInerney. The free kick by Freddy Adu hit one Philadelphia player in the box and bounced to Carlos Valdes. Valdes' shot was saved by Nielsen, but the rebound fell to McInerney who slotted the ball past Nielsen as none of the KC defenders had followed the ball, instead raising their hand for an offside call that never came as McInerney was a little behind Valdes when his shot was taken.
Into the second half, Kansas City really started to push numbers forward looking to get a goal and get back into the game. Really though KC struggled to create chances, and when they did they couldn't do much with them. Lawrence Olum played a nice ball into the area for Kei Kamara who headed the ball into the path of Teal Bunbury, but as Bunbury turned and had an opportunity to shoot, he shanked the ball well wide of the Union goal. As KC continued to push numbers forward, it left KC open on the counter. Substitute Antoine Hoppenot sat on KC's last defender and was looking for it. It almost worked for him in the 69th, but as he was in alone on Nielsen he chipped the ball over the goal. Shortly after that KC had another decent chance to pull level off of a free kick about 20 yards out. Zusi stepped up and forced Zac MacMath into a very good diving save to keep out Zusi's effort.
Finally in the 80th minute, KC throwing numbers forward caught up to them. Another long ball over the top to Hoppenot found him 1v1 with Collin. Hoppenot turned on Collin and got in behind where he was brought down by Collin. Referee, Terry Vaughn pointed to the spot without hesitation. Pajoy stepped up and sent Nielsen the wrong way, making it 3-0. Things got even worse in the 87thwhen Hoppenot was again played in behind the KC defense. And unlike his previous effort where he chipped it over and it went over the bar, this one landed in the back of the net, making it 4-0 and completing the rout.
A complete disaster of a performance by KC. KC just didn't look ready to play. Collin continued to look uncomfortable with any defender not named Matt Besler partnered next to him in central defense. From looking at it, it seems like without Besler there, Collin feels like he has to do twice the work covering more space, and that's leaving him out of position at other times. Either that, or Besler is just better at covering for Collin when he tries to do that. That said, I don't want to take too much away from the Union who played a very good and organized game. They scored the early goal, absorbed KC's pressure, got a second, and then struck twice on the counter as KC pushed numbers forward. A very good game plan.
Wizards Man of the Match - Kei Kamara - Picking the best of the worst is what this amounted to. Kamara had maybe the best of a bad game. He helped create some chances, but KC never really did much with anything.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 3, Myers 4, Collin 2, Olum 4, Sinovic 3, Cesar 3, Espinoza 4, Zusi 4, Kamara 5, Bunbury 3, Sapong 4. Subs Thomas 4, Saad 5, Peterson NR