Friday, September 19, 2014

Sporting Climb to Top of Their Group

A pair of goals by Toni Dovale in the second half helped Kansas City to a 3-1 win over Deportivo Saprissa that sees them take over first place in Group 2 in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Sporting came out and was the aggressor from the start, pushing the game against the Costa Ricans. Benny Feilhaber had an early opportunity on goal after a long throw in fell in front of him, but he couldn't make solid contact. In the 12th minute, Kansas City won a penalty kick. Feilhaber received the ball at the top of the box and played it in to Dom Dwyer. Dwyer turned and chipped a ball into the box that Feilhaber ran onto. The midfielder brought the ball down and one-v-one with goalkeeper Danny Carvajal, Feilhaber tried to round the keeper, but was pulled down. Dwyer stepped up and buried his PK in the corner even though Carvajal guessed the right way. Dwyer could have doubled the lead minutes later off a free kick, but with a free header he put it wide.It was one of three chances that Dwyer had to find another goal that he didn't. He had another opportunity later, getting played in one on one with Carvajal, but the Saprissa keeper did a good job of making the save an pushing it wide for a corner. The missed opportunities came back to bite KC in the 28th. On a throw-in deep in KC territory, Ariel Rodriguez had the ball hit him in the back, the ball bounced to Daniel Colindres who touched the ball back to Juan Golobio Bustos who fired a shot past Andy Gruenebaum and into the far corner. Aurelien Collin was looking for a foul on the play as Rodriguez knocked into Collin on the play, but no foul was called. KC almost pulled one back before half time, again through Dwyer. This time Dwyer did everything right on a Dovale corner, beating his man to the ball and heading the ball down and to the corner, but Carvajal did an extremely good job of getting down low to make an excellent save. The rebound fell to Jorge Claros who couldn't put an effort on goal from a tight angle.

The second half saw KC continue to be the team on the front foot with most of the possession, but Saprissa caused trouble for KC with high pressure when they tried to distribute out of the back. Graham Zusi tried to take the game over for KC, causing Saprissa's right back, Jordan Smith all kinds of trouble, but those moves didn't pay off until the 69th minute. Zusi played a great cross field ball into the path of Igor Juliao. Juliao did a good job of getting a foot on the ball, knocking it into the air near the top of the box for Dovale. The Spaniard was able to measure the ball as it fell and struck it first time on the volley. Carvajal got a hand on it, but couldn't keep it out and KC went back in front. With the lead again KC was able to find more space going forward as Saprissa looked for another equalizer. Dwyer flicked a header just over the bar minutes after Dovale's goal. In the 76th, KC did take advantage of the numbers thrown forward. Zusi and Dwyer combined on a counter with Dwyer getting the ball wide in the box. Dwyer squared the ball back across the middle. Paulo Nagamura was racing in but only got a small touch on the ball, but it continued through to the far side of the goal were Dovale was trailing the play and fired the ball into the net to make it 3-1 KC. Saprissa had some half chances down the stretch, but really didn't cause a lot of trouble for Gruenebaum in the KC net as KC jumped over Saprissa and into first play. They can give themselves breathing room on Tuesday when Real Esteli comes to KC.

Wizards Man of the Match - Toni Dovale - A brace for the Spaniard he now has three in this year's competition. Those three goals are good for the second most in club history in international competitions, and tied for most in a single season.

Honorable Mention - Graham Zusi

Player Ratings - Gruenebaum 5, Juliao 6, Collin 7, Besler 6, Sinovic 6, Claros 6, Nagamura 6, Feilhaber 6, Dovale 8, Dwyer 6, Zusi 8. Subs Bieler NR, Sapong NR, Olum NR.

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