Saturday, August 24, 2013

Same Old Sporting

It seems to be a regular occurrence for Sporting. Out shoot your opponent, don't put enough shots on goal, and end up losing by the odd goal. It happened again last night in Chicago where Kansas City allowed an early goal by Hunter Jumper, and even though they had close to 60% possession throughout the game, KC couldn't find the net.

KC almost grabbed an early lead inside the first few minutes in a similar fashion to how they scored their first goal in Chicago earlier this year. Off a Matt Besler long throw, the ball landed inside the 6, Teal Bunbury just missed the ball and then was knocked clear before Graham Zusi could make contact with it. After KC had the better of play for the first 10 minutes, the Fire started to come into the game. And in the 13th minute grabbed the lead.  But the sequence started a few minutes later off a Chicago corner that KC couldn't clear their end and Chicago kept them pinned deep. After switching side, Jalil Anibaba turned Seth Sinovic in a circle before Besler cleared for a throw in. Off the throw in the ball got cleared back to Anibaba who fired a cross towards the back post. Mike Magee kept the ball in play knocking it into the middle where Jumper beat Aurelien Collin to the ball with a low header that beat Jimmy Nielsen and made it 1-0 Fire. In the 16th the Fire probably should have doubled their lead on the counter. After some nice passing through the midfield, the ball made it to Jeff Larentowicz who went towards goal but got caught by Peterson Joseph. Larentowicz cut back and played the ball over to Alex who controlled and fired on goal, but Nielsen made the save. The Fire continued to push for a second and again Nielsen was called into action in the 26th. After a Chicago corner was cleared and played back into the box. Magee collected and fired a shot towards Nielsen's near post, but the Dane knocked it away for another corner. Sporting KC had opportunities of their own to tie it. In the 34th minute a ball into the box found Bunbury, but Bunbury couldn't get over the dipping ball enough and fired it over the goal. Only two minutes later Bunbury had another opportunity. Another ball into the box got flicked into the middle of the box towards Bunbury. He couldn't get enough on the effort though as he was falling down fighting for the ball and dribbled a shot that was easy for Sean Johnson.

The second half saw Kansas City control possession but finding very little to do with it. And it was Chicago countering that looked more dangerous. In the 54th minute they had two chances. First a long ball over the top found Magee behind the KC defense, he was pushed wide though and couldn't get a shot off while Collin ended up knocking him over with no call. Then KC turned it over off the goal kick and the ball ended up at the feet of Larentowicz who had his shot saved by the foot of Nielsen. The Fire again should have doubled their lead in the 64th on the counter attack. Off an over commitment by Collin the ball bounced over his head to Chris Rolfe who raced half the length of the field 1v1 with Nielsen. But in the end, Rolfe put his shot wide of Nielsen's post, a shocking effort for the Fire forward in that situation. Chicago continued to get the better of the chances while KC controlled possession. In the 72nd again Chicago could have grabbed a second. After a cross into the box was headed up into the air by Larentowicz. The first to react to it was Juan Luis Anangono who after the ball bounced hit it on the volley. Nielsen just got a finger tip on it, enough to push it onto the cross bar and the ball bounced back into play. KC looked dangerous as the game got later. In the 83rd, Chance Myers played a nice cross towards the back post for Dom Dwyer. Dwyer headed the ball back towards the near post, but the looping header hit the cross bar and Soony Saad's follow up over head kick went high and wide. A few minutes later Joseph picked out Sinovic who had made a good run down the line. Sinovic went towards the goal but his effort ended up being well saved by Johnson. The rebound was put over the bar. KC's last effort came after a foul out wide on the edge of the box. Zusi stepped up to it but instead of playing a ball into the box laid it back to an on rushing Saad. Saad's effort though was over the goal. KC couldn't make enough of their possession and the Fire closed the gap between first in the east and 7th to just 6 points.

Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Nielsen - Without some big saves (and some big misses) Sporting would have lost this game by more. I've been critical of Nielsen at times this season but he came up big last night, the other end of the field didn't step up last night.

Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 3, Collin 3, Besler 4, Sinovic 4, Rosell 4, Joseph 3, Feilhaber 4, Zusi 4, Bunbury 4, Sapong 4. Subs Saad 5, Dwyer 4, Olum NR.


Nathan Martin said...

The team is 1-3-1 when Joseph and Feilhaber start together.

They've started 19% of the games and the team has acquired 10% of its points in those games.

Joseph's yellow card prevents this lineup next game, hopefully, putting Nagamura one week closer to returning.

Half of SKC's shots & key passes took place after Feilhaber was subbed out & Zusi was shifted into the midfield in the 57th minute.

I don't necessarily have a problem with either Joseph or Feilhaber paired with Rosell and Zusi/Olum, I have a problem with them both being on the field at the same time.

Hopefully those stats won't need to be updated.

Nathan Martin said...

Distilling the point down, with Zusi, Joseph, and Feilhaber on the field at the time you have 3 players who want to serve the ball. There's only 1 ball so there's essentially 2 people standing around while the defenders can key in on the only 2 available options: Bunbury & Sapong, who aren't finishers.

By moving Zusi into the midfield and Saad out wide: you've added a target without losing service.

The next step is for Nagamura to take on the Espinoza role slightly behind the point of midfield triangle.

This closes 2 gaps: it keeps Zusi closer to the center forward & gives Rosell containment cover. The attacking angle moves away from exclusively relying on winger to other winger backpost because the center forward now has a link-up partner up the middle.

I know frustrations are high with PV, but the truth is that SKC's best 11 haven't played together yet. Nagamura was hurt in Zusi's first game in the midfield & Saad didn't make his first start until the next game due to Sapong's red card suspension in that Dallas game.

It's only time to panic if Kamara & Nagamura remain injured.

hartley said...

Nathan, you make some very good points.

To me, it seems Benny's play sucks the life right out of the squad. We don't break forward when we have the chance -- we don't go for it. Possession is key but you have to take and make some breaks when the other team is going to bunker and give you few opportunities.

I have no problems with PJ. And I would prefer him to Nagamura. At the start of the season, Nags was getting too far forward and providing nothing in the attack. He can't pass well and he can rarely shoot well. If he is on the field, he needs to be the dmid only. At least Uri can pass the ball well.

I still don't see a solution to our dmid problem in this roster. I think at some point, someone else needs to come into the side to provide that defensive strength. Uri seems much better suited to Roger's old spot. And Zusi must be the man heading the attack.

Teal and CJ seem to be playing a different game right now than the rest of the team. They are making runs where no one is passing the ball. Once Saad and Dwyer were on the field -- with Zusi as amid -- we started stringing passes together and attacking.

Nathan Martin said...

Yes, PV asked Nagamura to play too high up the field earlier in the year. Portland is a very good example of that.

I don't want to see him closer than 30 yards from goal.

In Nagamura's 16 starts with Rosell, SKC shutout 7 opponents.

The past 10 games, SKC shutout 2 opponents: Toronto (Zusi/Feilhaber) & New England (Joseph/Feilhaber).
If Zusi, Saad, Bieler, & Kamara can't handle the attacking load, the team is not good enough.