Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sporting Fall to RSL in Preseason Play

Sporting Kansas City fell for the first time in the Desert Diamond Cup, 2-1 to Real Salt Lake in Tucson tonight. Both teams started the game with a heavily reserve squad on the field. Salt Lake was the aggressor early on and in the 12th minute took the lead as Luke Mulholland picked out Emery Welshman, who curled a shot into the far corner past Tim Melia to make it 1-0. Kansas City controlled much of the possession but really struggled to create chances in the first half. Most of Kansas City's attacks came down their right hand side through James Ansu Rogers and Saad Abdul-Salaam. Sporting though didn't really test Jeff Attinella in the RSL net. In the 23rd, RSL almost made it 2-0 as Mulholland payed a cross into the box off a short corner that Welshman headed off the cross bar. Mulholland followed the shot, but put the rebound wide of the net.

The second half saw RSL grab an early second goal to make it 2-0. Mikey Lopez, a half time sub lost the ball deep in KC's own end, to Mulholland but was able to win it back immediately. Lopez tried to play the ball back to Melia, but his back pass was too slow and was easily picked off by Devin Sandoval who beat Melia to the ball and chipped it over him and into the net to double RSL's lead. KC's best chance up to that point came in the 55th minute when a KC corner was headed on goal by Kevin Ellis, but his effort was cleared off the line by RSL to keep them on top 2-0. Just after the hour mark, Sporting made 10 more changes, bringing on more first teamers to finish out the game. Immediately the pace of the game changed as KC pushed for a way back into the game. They got it only a couple minutes after the subs. A corner kick by Benny Feilhaber was met by Dom Dwyer at the near post who was able to direct the ball into the far corner to cut RSL's lead to 2-1. Only three minutes later, Marcel de Jong almost tied the game. Heavy pressure by de Jong on Attinella and Jordan Allen forced a turn over. From a tight angle, de Jong tried to turn the shot in, but could only hit the near post. Attinella also came up with some big saves on both Dwyer and Bernardo Anor in the second half to keep RSL on top. In the 87th de Jong gave KC their best chance for an equalizer playing a great ball into the box for Dwyer, but KC's leading scorer last year couldn't put the effort on goal.

Overall it was your standard KC vs RSL game, it was chippy game with seven yellow cards handed out, and three shoving matches broken up by officials, bringing back memories of the 2011 preseason match up between the two teams that was ended early because of a bench clearing scuffle.

As for who impressed and didn't tonight, I'd say that KC's attacking options for the first 60 minutes were lacking quite a bit. Ansu Rogers was really the only threat for KC going forward, Peterson and Hallisey brought a little to play, but not much, this lineup highlighted KC's lack of center forward options, especially if Peter Vermes is going to try to find a way to play with both Dwyer and Krisztian Nemeth on the field at the same time. Defensively, I felt that Seth Sinovic was off quite a bit tonight. I don't know what was wrong but he really wasn't playing like himself. I don't know if it's the threat of losing his starting job to de Jong, or what, but he just was not on tonight. As for who impressed, I have to go with the person trying to take Sinovic's job, de Jong. It's a little hard to judge parts of the game because de Jong was going against a tired back line and he was fresh for 30 minutes. But de Jong caused trouble for RSL and was able to get forward very well, which is something that Vermes likes out of his full backs. I also felt that Benny Feilhaber continues to have a solid preseason in a deep role in KC's midfield.

KC will now close out preseason on Saturday with a pair of games. The first will be against Minnesota United and then KC will play their final Desert Diamond Cup game against Seattle.

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