Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Year, Same Home Form

The hope for Sporting KC heading into this season was that the team would be able to do better with their chances and scoring goals, especially at home where over the previous two years at Sporting Park, KC would get plenty of the possession, but would not be able to capitalize on it as much as they should.  During the last two years KC has controlled possession in many of their home games and out shot their opponents by a large margin, but have struggled to consistently find the net.  Such was the case again yesterday at Sporting Park as KC and the Chicago Fire played to a 0-0 draw.

Kansas City had plenty of possession in the early going but weren't creating chances, one of the best came in the 13th minute after a long throw from Matt Besler was only partially cleared, Mechack Jerome, starting in place of the injured Chance Myers fired the rebound towards goal.  CJ Sapong jumped out of the way as the shot went through but Sean Johnson in the Chicago net had it covered.  KC had another dangerous pass after a 1-2 saw Sapong move in on goal, but the return pass had been a little much as Johnson was quickly off his line to collect.  Shortly after that there was a penalty shout for Kansas City as a cross into the box bounced off the ground and off the arm of Jalil Anibaba.  Not an intentional handball, but with Anibaba's arm extended away from his body a little bit, the call could easily have been made.  But such is the game when KC plays Chicago at home when it comes to PKs.  Throughout the rest of the first half KC had some half chances, but really didn't test Johnson much, putting most of the efforts high or wide of his goal.

In the second half Sporting continued to be the more aggressive side but the end product still was not there.  Some great work on the sideline saw Seth Sinovic play a nice cross into the middle but neither Claudio Bieler, or the trailing Sapong could reach the ball in time to turn it in.  KC kept attacking and a long blast from Paulo Nagamura forced a decent save out of Johnson and the rebound fell to Bieler, but he couldn't make good contact with his head to put the ball on goal.  In the 77th minute, KC inserted Soony Saad for Benny Feilhaber, and Saad had an immediate impact, dribbling at a Fire defender and firing a shot that went just wide of Johnson's post, with Johnson struggling to get there.  Kansas City kept racking up shots, but not quality ones.  In the 86th minute, Graham Zusi and Sapong combined down the right hand side that saw Zusi get into the box with some space, but he fired his shot over the goal.  In the 90th minute, completely against the run of play Chicago almost stole all 3 points from Kansas City as some good combination play by the Fire found 3 players behind KC's back line, but Jimmy Nielsen was quick off his line and blocked a shot by Daniel Paladini to keep the game level. In the end Kansas City couldn't capitalize on possession that was north of 70% for the either game and the Fire escaped with their first point of the season in the 0-0 draw.

Wizards Man of the Match - Matt Besler - Sporting's defense didn't concede for the first time this season, and were able to deal with Chicago's attack throughout the game, save for the one opportunity in the 90th minute, when Nielsen came up with the nice save to keep the game scoreless. Besler also got a chance to get forward with some long throws, which is something that had been lacking a bit for Sporting, using that extra weapon.

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Jerome 6, Collin 6, Besler 7, Sinovic 6, Nagamura 6, Rosell 6, Feilhaber 5, Zusi 4, Bieler 4, Sapong 4. Subs Saad 5.

1 comment:

Nathan Martin said...

For me, Rosell was the best player on the field by a sizable margin.

I've withheld my judgment on Feilhaber until seeing him play in person.

His attitude and floppiness is 100% improved. His workrate in the offensive half was solid, however, he failed to cover for his other midfielders on Fire breakaways.

He also is a non-factor on set pieces because he's probably been taking them since he was 5 and has no idea what to do on the other side of the pass.

From the Opta heat map, it looks like he played a bit more advanced than in previous games. He also had more passes(79) than in the first 2 games combined (74).

He notched his first 2 "key passes"
while Zusi has 14 this season.

Overall Feilhaber has been ok. I think Zusi's better than him in the center but the question is whether Zusi in the center and Saad or other out wide is better than having Feilhaber and Zusi on the field at the same time. I'm not sure.