Thursday, October 24, 2013

Draw is Enough to See KC Through to CCL Knock Out Phase

In 1,000 years when future human culture is shown videos of soccer games of the early 21st century, tonight's game between Sporting KC and Olimpia will not be one of them. The game was ugly, with a number of fouls and questionable referee decisions. But the 0-0 draw was enough to see Kansas City through to the knock out rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League. With the way results have gone, Sporting will find themselves either the 6th or the 7th seed in the tournament when it continues in 2014. A disappointing position to finish in considering KC started out with six of six points on the road. KC took only two of the available six in their two home games. Maybe playing on the road second will give KC the game they need in the knock out round.

Against Olimpia tonight in KC though, KC dominated play against their Central American rivals. In the first half they have over 70% of the possession but couldn't find the net as Noel Valladares had a good half, making a number of good saves. The first inside the first few minutes as he had to push a shot from Jacob Peterson over the bar. Chance Myers had a good opportunity a short time later when the ball landed at his feet, but his shot was well blocked for the corner. Again in the 29th minute, Peterson forced a good save from Valladares. Off a cross from Seth Sinovic, Peterson put the header on frame, low, but Valladares got down low an knocked the ball wide for a corner. In the 36th KC thought they'd taken the lead through Teal Bunbury. Sinovic won the ball in Olimpia's end and knocked the ball over the top to Bunbury who one timed the ball into the net, but Bunbury was offside. Graham Zusi tested Valladares from distance later in the half but the Honduran international was able to knock the ball away for a corner.

The second half saw Kansas City continue to pressure, but at the same time Olimpia tried to come into the game more, knowing they needed a win to advance. KC though, thought they'd grabbed the lead in the 54th minute. A cross towards CJ Sapong at the back post was cut out by Olimpia right into the path of Zusi. Zusi one timed the effort past Valladares and into the net. But the referee blew his whistle although it wasn't clear if it was a foul, offside or what. If the Olimpia player knocked it into the path of Zusi it couldn't have been offside. Olimpia came at KC and Eric Kronberg was finally forced into a save punching a shot into the air. The rebound was bicycle kicked back across goal, but Sinovic headed it out of danger. KC had another golden opportunity later in the half when a ball was floated in to Bunbury unmarked in the box. Bunbury though headed the ball straight down and the ball bounced right into the hands of Valladares. Into stoppage time KC had one more really good opportunity. Substitute, Dom Dwyer won the ball off the Olimpia defender and went in 1v1 against Valladares. Dwyer tried to slot his shot to the far post, but Valladares got just enough on it to push it wide of the post. Seconds later the final whistle blew.

KC will now wait to see who they play in the knock out round, with the likes of Cruz Azul, LA Galaxy, and Tijuana as potential opponents.

Wizards Man of the Match - Matt Besler - Helped to shut down Olimpia's attacks throughout the night. Limited the Hondurans to just a single shot on goal throughout the night.

Honorable Mention - Seth Sinovic

Player Ratings - Kronberg 6, Sinovic 7, Besler 8, Collin 7, Myers 6, Rosell 7, Olum 6, Zusi 6, Sapong 5, Bunbury 5, Peterson 6. Subs Dwyer 5, Gardner NR.


Nathan Martin said...

Really not too much different from finishing 5th with a win or 6-7 with a tie: a quality opponent and home 1st leg. Shutout and advance.

Perhaps, it's related to playing with Olum & Rosell but Zusi's been dropping so far back that it brings his defender, allows the defense to set up, forces more speculative long passes, and puts himself further from the goal. Rosell and Olum are more than capable of distributing the ball out of the the defensive half.

Or perhaps, the departure of Kei & his role with the USMNT has him pressing a bit. He needs to take a breath, trust his teammates, and focus on possessing the ball in the offensive third.

Unknown said...

On the Zusi goal that was denied, see the field level shot at 2 minutes in:
apparently the center ref called an elbowing foul on Zusi. UnbeLIEVable. Gotta say I think this is the WORST element of

Unknown said...

sorry... of soccer officiating is a baffling game changing call and no explanation. awful call but worse still to leave the fans, the announcers, the coaches and the TV viewers utterly in the dark about an extremely important, game changing call.