Sunday, September 22, 2013

Winning in the Rain

Sporting KC put themselves back on top of the Eastern Conference today as they took out Toronto FC at BMO Field in less than ideal conditions. Throughout the game periods of very heavy rain caused plenty of trouble for players keeping their feet. In the end the weather didn't appear to directly lead to any goals.

KC made a number of changes to their lineup with Matt Besler and Soony Saad on the bench while Claudio Bieler and Oriol Rosell didn't even make the 18. KC though came out and dominated play at the beginning of the game. In the 5th minute they almost found the first goal as a Chance Myers cross was flicked on by Dom Dwyer, but his header was wide of the post. Early on, Allen Chapman tried to maintain control and handed out three early yellows, two to Toronto, one to Sporting KC. KC made the early pressure pay off in the 18th minute. KC struck on the counter off a Toronto free kick. The attack actually looked to have died early on as Dwyer played the ball a little too wide for Graham Zusi. Zusi recovered well and played a nice long ball over the top to Dwyer who had continued his run. Dwyer smartly headed the ball back into the middle to a completely unmarked CJ Sapong who headed the ball in to give KC the lead.

After the goal though, Toronto really started to come into the game and they controlled possession. TFC really kept KC pinned in deep and didn't allow KC to get much over the half way line the rest of the half. Alavaro Rey should have leveled the scoring shortly after. Rey coasted into the box at the back post alone, but on the incoming cross he didn't make enough contact and the ball went wide. Aurelin Collin was lucky to stay on the field during this stretch as he easily could have picked up a second yellow or straight red for a foul on Alvaro Rey. As Collin was trying to shield the ball out he threw his elbow up on Rey and appeared to catch Rey in the face with his arm. No yellow as produced though. In the 38th though Toronto pulled level and it was KC's own undoing. Some poor play in the bak saw Jimmy Nielsen attempt to play the ball to Collin. The Frenchman though had to stretch to make the trap and gave the ball away to Rey. Rey squared it into the middle for Darel Russell who made no mistake, beating Nielsen and leveling the score. Just before the half KC was lucky to not fall behind. Off a Toronto corner the ball was headed on goal and had beaten Nielsen, but Jacob Peterson was on the line to clear the ball away.

KC came out in the second and looked to reestablish the lead. It took only seven minutes for them to do it. A quick throw in by Zusi was collected by Myers who played a cross into the box for Sapong. The forward had lost his defender and easily headed a ball past Joe Bendik and into the net, putting KC back on top. Unlike when they scored in the first half though, KC didn't allow Toronto to really control the game. KC didn't really create much in the way of chances but they kept Toronto from doing the same which was key. In the 67th KC probably should have had a PK. On a cross into the box by Set Sinovic, Sapong was barreled over from behind by Steven Caldwell. No call was made though. In the 77th again KC's defense at the back post was called into question, and again the TFC player did poorly with the finish. Doneil Henry was the culprit this time not getting the shot off and the ball went wide. Toronto had more of the play from there, but didn't get much in the way of shots. Then in the 86th Caldwell got himself sent off. On a poor back pass by Kyle Bekker, Josh Gardner tried to beat Caldwell to the ball, he did and in the challenge, Caldwell came in studs up and caught Garnder. Chapman went to his back pocket and produced a red card. Down a man Toronto continued to look for an equalizer and they also had a penalty shout. A long free kick in to the box was flicked on. At the back post Collin went up for the ball with Justin Braun. Collin though was not looking at the ball and knocked Braun over, but as with Sapong no call was made. KC held on and walked out with all three points.

Wizards Man of the Match - CJ Sapong - A brace from Sapong makes three in the last two games. Yes it was against a poor Toronto side, but hopefully this is Sapong rounding into form. KC will need it.

Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Myers 6, Collin 4, Opara 6, Sinovic 6, Olum 6, Feilhaber 5, Zusi 6, Sapong 7, Dwyer 5, Peterson 5. Subs Joseph 4, Gardner 5, Bunbury NR.


Nathan Martin said...

Sapong's first 2 goals on the road tie him for most on the team with Collin, Opara, Bieler & Zusi.

3 road points while resting & preventing a yellow card suspension for Bieler & Rosell set the team up well at home against Philly.

A little concerned that Nagamura wasn't on the bench for the second game this week: hoping that's just to rest him.

hartley said...

It is good to get a win while resting some players. It does show we have some depth -- but maybe we are a little short in a couple of spots. Nevertheless, a good win under the circumstances.

I do think this proves that Sapong and Dwyer should continue to start. Bring Saad back in and put Zusi in the midfield where he best serves the team and we can still push for the Shield. And yes, that does mean continue to have our DP sitting. He's lost his way a bit -- making the wrong runs. And he would not have looked to make the pass that Dom did for CJ's first goal.

I am hoping that PV has finally seen that he cannot have Benny and PJ on the field at the same time. Zusi and Benny are fine -- even with Uri sitting behind them. But it is a worry that Nags injuries woes linger. There is one place where we need the depth -- unless Benny starts bringing the bite that PJ does while continuing to help circulate the ball through the middle rather than around it.