Sunday, August 04, 2013

Schooled in the Art of the Counter

Sporting Kansas City was killed on the counter last night, The New York Red Bulls taught KC a clinic on counter attacking soccer as they came into Sporting Park and came away 3-2 winners thanks to goals by Jonny Steele, Fabian Espindola, and Lloyd Sam.  Two of the goals came on the counter attack. KC controlled 65% possession and created 27 shots but could only score twice. It was the same story we've come to expect from KC in the shot department, a large number of shots, fewer (only eight) on goal.  Meanwhile New York created just five shots, all of them were on goal, and three of them went in.

KC started out the game fantastically, pressuring the Red Bulls and pushing the game. In the 12th minute a long ball over the top to Kei Kamara gave KC their first good chance of the game. Kamara dribbled inside on his man and then squared the ball to Benny Feilhaber at the top of the box. Feilhaber's shot was well saved by Luis Robles but he parried the rebound into the path of Soony Saad. Saad though couldn't make quality contact with the shot and put it over the goal from an acute angle. Shortly after that chance the Red Bulls almost scored on the counter. Fabian Espindola laid a ball off out wide to Thierry Henry. Henry played a cross to the back post for Steele, but Jimmy Nielsen came up with a big save knocking the ball out for a corner. In the 27th minute though Steele didn't miss. After winning possession off a goal kick, Dax McCarty played a nice through ball to Steele who had ghosted in behind Chance Myers and ran onto the ball.  He collected and then fired a shot that beat Nielsen at his near post. KC should have been level in the 42nd. After working the ball down the wing, Seth Sinovic played a ball to the back post. Myers headed the ball back into the middle for Claudio Bieler.  Bieler unmarked and with Robles out of position you'd expect the DP to score, but he headed the ball from inside the 6 over the bar. In the 45th though KC did level it. A cross by Myers to the near post was flicked on goal by Saad. Robles though made the save but spilled the rebound right in front where Kamara tapped it home to tie the game.

The second half saw Kansas City continue to try to push the game, getting a number of shots but not able to take the lead. and in the 63rd minute they paid for it as the Red Bulls struck on the counter. Sam received the ball out wide and immediately slid a ball through for Espindola who was extremely close to being offside, but on replays appeared to be even with Aurelien Collin. Espinodola raced into the box and fired a shot past Nielsen as Collin tried to make a last second sliding tackle. And a few minutes later, in the 69th the Red Bulls did it again. A quick distribution found Robles out wide ahead of most of the KC defense. He then played a ball across the field to Sam who raced towards goal.  Peterson Joseph caught up with Sam, but Sam stopped, cut inside and then beat Nielsen to his near side making it 3-1.

Down 3-1, KC continued to throw numbers forward, but it was the Red Bulls that almost made it 4-1. Again it was on a counter attack. Peguy Luyindula and Sam countered 2v1 with Sinovic. Sam laid the ball over to Luyindula, but Nielsen made a good save. the rebound fell back to Luyindula though, but he scuffed the shot and it was cleared. Shortly after the chance KC almost scored themselves. A quick corner by KC was played into the box, substitute Dom Dwyer beat his man, but put his header into the bar keeping the score 3-1. In the second minute of stoppage time though KC did get one back. A cross by Kamara into the box was headed down and past Robles by Dwyer for his 1st goal for Sporting KC. KC continued to push looking for an equalizer. The original 5 minutes of stoppage time were extended to almost 10 because of an injury to Red Bulls Kosuke Kimura who had to be stretchered off the field with a concussion. KC throw everything forward, including inserting Ike Opara as a target striker. KC had opportunities, but couldn't find the back of the net.

Wizards Man of the Match - Kei Kamara - A goal and an assist for Kamara last night, the goal his 50th in MLS play for his career. Congrats to him on the landmark goal.

Player Ratings - Nielsen 4, Myers 3, Besler 4, Collin 3, Sinovic 3, Rosell 4, Joseph 5, Feilhaber 4, Saad 5, Bieler 4, Kamara 5.


Nathan Martin said...

Starting midfield trio results.

Rosell & Nagamura with Feilhaber/Joseph/Zusi is 6-4-4.

Rosell & Olum with Feilhaber/Zusi is 2-0-1.

Joseph & Feilhaber with Rosell/Nagamura is 0-2-1

Rosell & Zusi with Joseph/Feilhaber is 2-1-0

In other words when Rosell has a defensive-minded partner, SKC is 8-4-5 or 1.7 ppg.

When there is only 1 defensive-minded starter, SKC is 2-3-1 or 1.17 ppg. And the only 2 victories came with Zusi in the midfield.
PV tried to replace Zusi with Joseph and Feilhaber and this left a gap alongside Rosell. It was painfully obvious last night and is rather obvious in the results.

I do not expect to see Feilhaber and Joseph start together again which solves a big chunk of the problem.

Despite the fact that I put a lot of blame for the defensive troubles on the shape of the midfield triangle, Collin deserves to be benched.

He has overstayed his welcome in the opponents half one too many times. He has complained mid-play one too many times. He has kept teams onside due to poor positioning one too many times. He has stabbed, flopped, whiffed & fouled one too many times.

Finally, Nielsen shouldn't have let the first goal in near post. Kronberg should have started this week because of Jimmy's illness & SKC should look for another GK in the offseason if Kronberg isn't a starter in their eyes.

Other than that, the team played well.

hartley said...

I agree that we cannot have PJ and Benny on at the same time. The biggest problem to me is that Benny doesn't play defense. I see him jogging when he should be sprinting to help on defense. He still doesn't get that he has to play both sides of the ball -- and for an entire match. Leave it on the field. If you can't cut it, gas yourself and be subbed.

The midfield right now is a major problem. And maybe PV needs to tweak the formation to a 4-2-3-1 -- keeping the two dmids at home a lot and letting those three rotate at will in attack.

There is too big a hole between the midfield and the defense. There's also too much throwing up of hands instead of making plays. These guys have to get it together.

We also need to be better at setting up our set pieces. That's when we usually get burned on the counter. The people in ball-winning situations have to make sure that if they don't win the ball, they have to foul or somehow get the ball out of touch so we can reset defensively. Ugh.

Spend some money on a true dmid. And let Kronberg start. Jimmy looks tired.

John said...

Same problems over and over and over. PV doesn't have the personnel to run a 433.