Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sporting Lack Fire in Loss

After arguably their most dominating performance of the season on the weekend against the Montreal Impact, Sporting KC came out and played extremely poorly and fell for the first time at home this season, losing 2-1 to the Philadelphia Union. While Sporting certainly didn't play well enough to win the game, credit to the Union who came in with a good game plan. They disrupted KC's passing out of the back, not allowing Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler to get the ball quickly to Oriol Rosell in the middle, which has been key for KC's offense throughout this season. With Rosell cut off, he was pushing further up field trying to allowing Paulo Nagamura and Benny Feilhaber to be the ones receiving it, but that then left those two too far back on the field. The Union worked the game plan to perfection and then struck twice against a back line that looked nothing like themselves to give the Union only their second win of the season.

Sporting came out and got plenty of possession from the start but really couldn't do much with it. The only good chance early on came when Graham Zusi played a fantastic through ball to Sal Zizzo. Zizzo was in behind Philadelphia's defense, but with a defender closing couldn't get enough on his shot. The Union's pressure on the KC back line almost paid off in the 29th as Vincent Nogueira picked the ball off of Paulo Nagamura and fired a shot on goal, but Eric Kronberg got down well to make the save. Shortly after KC had another good opportunity and again it was Zusi setting up Zizzo. The US international played a fantastic cross into the box for Zizzo who put his header on goal, but it was right at Zac MacMath who made a good reaction save on the shot. Just before half time KC had another good opportunity. After some passing on the left the ball made it into the middle for Zusi who passed up a shot, instead sliding the ball wide to Zizzo who let fly with a shot that MacMath again nicely saved.

KC was playing with fire though with their work out of the back and their lack of urgency in their play and they were made to pay in the 49th. Cristian Maidana received a nice ball over the top after a throw in. He played a cross into the middle that Kronberg knocked away into the path of Seth Sinovic. Sinovic though didn't clear the ball quickly enough and Danny Cruz came in beating him to the ball and knocking the ball in to give the Union a 1-0 lead. KC threw numbers forward looking to find an equalizer but the Union continued to be in the game on the counter. In the 59th Andrew Wenger took on both of KC's central defenders, beating them down the field before Kronberg was called to come off his line and make a stop. Shortly after this play KC was dealt a big blow as Collin had to leave the game with a hamstring injury. After the game it sounds like he'll miss a few weeks, not the news that KC want to hear already down Ike Opara and Besler now leaving to join the US team.

KC kept pushing and Claudio Bieler had a good opportunity in the 70th minute, but his header from the penalty spot was tame and right at MacMath as the Union kept KC out of the net. What Bieler couldn't do, his replacement, Dom Dwyer did in the 80th minute. Dwyer picked the ball up at midfield and raced down the field, laying the ball off to Nagamura. The Brazilian immediately returned the ball to Dwyer who fired a fantastic shot into the far corner to level the game at 1-1. The game wasn't level for long though, the Union came immediately back down the field. The ball was played into Wenger who held off both Besler and Lawrence Olum before the ball got played wide to Maidana, who picked out the far corner and beat Kronberg to restore the Union's lead only a minute after it was tied. Again KC had all the work to do to try to get back into the game. Just before stoppage time they were given help by Union midfielder, Corben Bone. Bone had been on the field less than a minute when the ball was played to Jacob Peterson and Bone came in with a sliding challenge that completely missed the ball. Initially it looked like Ricardo Salazar was only going to give a yellow, but in the end went to his back pocket and produced a red card. With a man advantage for about five minutes with stoppage time though KC could not take advantage as they fell for the third time on the season.

Wizards Man of the Match - Dom Dwyer - If only for the goal, which was a thing of beauty. I've personally always considered myself more on the Claudio Bieler wagon. And while I still maintain that overall Bieler is the better striker. In KC's system, Dwyer is the better striker. Bieler is to reliant on chances being created for him to finish. Dywer, as he showed tonight can create more of his own. Dwyer really is this team's number one forward.

Player Ratings -  Kronberg 5, Sinovic 3, Collin 4, Besler 4, Juliao 5, Rosell 4, Nagamura 4, Feilhaber 4, Zusi 4, Bieler 3, Zizzo 6. Subs Peterson 5, Olum 3, Dwyer 6.

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