Saturday, March 02, 2013

Sporting Win Season Opener

It wasn't pretty, especially early, but Sporting Kansas City took care of business and won their 4th straight opening day game, and 4th straight on the road.  Sporting KC pulled out a 3-1 win at PPL Park to open the 2013 season with a win.

From the start, Sporting looked shaky, especially in the back.  Just over 3 minutes in, the Union had the first really good chance.  Gabriel Farfan received a cross inside KC's box, but Jimmy Nielsen made the first save, giving up a rebound to Farfan.  The rebound though, was knocked over the bar for a goal kick. In the 17th minute, KC paid for their poor performance early on.  Chanc Myers let a ball roll through his legs to Keon Daniel.  Daniel collected the ball and played it into the middle, where Sebastien Le Toux had worked his way between Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic.  Le Toux took a touch and fired a shot that Nielsen couldn't keep out, giving the Union a 1-0 lead.  The Union continued to make Sporting look poor and in the 22nd, should have doubled their lead.  Sheanon Williams got played in behind KC's defense and led a break.  Williams passed the ball over to a Le Toux.  With the goal at his mercy and Nielsen already going to his left, Le Toux shot to Nielsen's right, but pushed the ball wide of the post. Only a few minutes later, Michael Farfan forced a good save out of Nielsen off a restart from just outside the box. In the 41st minute, Sporting found themselves level, against the run of play.  Bobby Convey started the play on the left, winning a ball well against two Union players.  Convey raced down the field and then fired a cross towards Claudio Bieler as he raced into the box. Bieler smartly headed the ball back into the path of Benny Feilhaber.  Felhaber fired a shot of goal, but it was right at Zac MacMath.  MacMath though didn't hold the shot and the rebound fell to Graham Zusi.  Zusi fired the rebound past MacMath and into the net to level the scoring only 5 minutes before the half.

The goal was a game changer for both Sporting and Philadelphia.  On Kansas City's side, after a firsts half where Sporting didn't seem interested and didn't appear ready to play, KC came out and showed they were the better side in the second. Right from the start KC controlled the second.  Bieler fired just wide of the goal only a few minutes in. Then in the 65th, Sporting did take the lead.  Off of a free kick by Zusi, Oriol Rosell found himself completely unmarked in the box and the Spaniard flicked his header on past MacMath and into the net giving Kansas City the lead 2-1. KC continued to be the more aggressive side up 2-1 but couldn't find a third.  At the other end of the field Philadelphia had trouble creating chances, but did almost find a way back into the game thanks to KC.  A cross to the back post was headed back into the middle of the box where Besler attempted to chest the ball back to Nielsen.  Nielsen though was out of position and had to make a diving save to avoid an own goal.  Only a few minutes after that Nielsen was called upon to make another important save. A Le Toux cross found Jack McInerney in the middle of the box, but Nielsen got in front of the header and pushed it wide.

In the 82nd minute, Sporting finally found a 3rd.  Sporting worked the ball from one side of the field to the other, where it made it's way to Zusi.  Zusi cut inside and fired a cross to the back post where Myers one touched it back to Bieler who was just inside the box.  Bieler took a touch and then fired a shot into the corner that beat MacMath to make it 3-1 KC. Sporting were able to effectively kill the game off after that and were able to walk away from Philly with a 3-1 win.

Wizards Man of the Match - Graham Zusi - Had a hand in all 3 Sporting goals, getting a goal and 2 assists, Zusi looked good today, and was able to help pull the strings for Kansas City's attack.

Honorable Metion - Claudio Bieler

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 6, Collin 5, Besler 5, Sinovic 5, Nagamura 5, Rosell 6, Feilhaber 5, Convey 6, Bieler 7, Zusi 8. Subs Sapong 5, Joseph NR, Jerome - NR


Reepicheep said...

You drive a hard standard! Zusi gets a goal and a couple of helpers...and you give him an 8? I'm thinking a 9 for sure.

Anonymous said...

Myers was very suspect all game long. Ballwatching several times, costly turnovers. Failed to really get forward and Crosses we're floaters or nonserviceable. It'll be curious to watch if he actually was as good as he was the last two seasons now without teams focusing on Kei on in front of him. Zusi will not be as athletic as Kei was ahead of him. He should be no better than a 4.

hartley said...

Myers is stil coming back from an injury. And yes, he will have to adjust to what defenses are doing and how Zusi plays the wide forward. It will be interesting to see how the team can use Myers' speed on the right without the pace in backup that was Kamara.

It might also be interesting to see how Jerome develops as a right back for the team. If he continues to mature during the season, I would actually like to see Myers get the opportunity to play right forward. His speed and crosses could possibly be more effective from that position. And he played that spot -- scoring goals -- a couple of years ago in the reserves league.

I must say, I understand why Sporting KC wouldn't try to acquire a player like LaToux. But I would simply to keep him from scoring goals against us. He has a knack of finding that little bit of space against our defense. It would be interesting to see his goals against teams stats. I'm just thinking he has scored more goals against Sporting than any other team.

hartley said...

So, yeah, I had to look it up. Le Toux [sorry for the misspelling in my previous post] has scored more goals against DC United than any other team. Against United, he had scored five goals. Against KC, he has scored four goals.

What is more interesting is that Le Toux's five goals against DC came in only two games. He has played four other games against DC without scoring. His four goals against KC have come in four games. So, without digging further, he at least seems to be much more consistent against KC than any other team

Nathan Martin said...

A lot to like when the team has the ball and some reason for concern when they don't.

Aaron said...

I can't argue ratings and I won't complain about the result.

But, I do want to point out what I think is the most important stat line of the game.

Total Shots 7
Shots on Goal 4
Goals 3

That is more than 50% of our shots were on target and an amazing 75% of our shots on target went in. This is a huge change from every game last year! Lets hope this can keep up.

Anonymous said...

@Aaron- and the other shot on target was effectively an assist as it forced a dangerous rebound. definitely made the most of our opportunities Sat.