Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sporting Get Off the Mark

It wasn't a pretty game last night at Yankee Stadium between Sporting KC and New York City FC, but KC made an early goal from Ike Opara stand up for their first win of the season. The game should have brought back some not so good memories to KC fans watching the game take place in a baseball stadium. Even though the stadium is much bigger, the size of the field looked no different than the pill box that KC played on at Community America Ballpark for three years.

KC set out to try to immediately take advantage of the small field with their long throw-ins. Through the first three games of the season we hadn't seen a lot of the long throw, but KC was using it a lot last night. In the 10th minute after a long throw by Matt Besler, the ball fell to Jalil Anibaba who got enough of a shot to get the ball on goal, but Josh Saunders grabbed the ball in front of Dom Dwyer to settle play down. Two minutes later though Saunders could do nothing as KC took the lead. Again off the long throw Besler put it right on the head of Opara who thundered it past Saunders and into the net giving KC the 1-0 lead. In the 32nd minute that could have made it 2-0 as Jimmy Medranda picked out Benny Feilhaber with a nice through ball, Feilhaber flicked the ball out wide to an open Graham Zusi who skied is effort well over the bar. An effort that Zusi would want back as he only had Saunders in front of him from 18 yards out. Less than 10 minutes later Zusi's night would be done as he pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. A big blow to KC who will now likely be without Zusi for a couple weeks as he recovers from the injury.

NYCFC had injury issues of their own before the game even started as designated player; David Villa was a late scratch from the lineup. Already down another forward in Adam Nemec, who was away on international duty New York was very thin up top and it showed as they struggled to create chances with Opara and Besler both doing very well to shut down the New York attack. In the 43rd KC again had an opportunity to add to their lead and it again came off a Besler long throw. The initial ball was cleared just out of the box, but Paulo Nagamura knocked it back to the top of the 18 where it fell to Medranda who fired an effort just over the goal.

The second half lacked in real quality chances, but each side did create some. KC created a couple in the matter of a couple minutes, first a nice through ball for Dwyer, but it ran a little long and Saunders was quick off his line to tackle it away. The best chance came in the 64th minute after some very good combination play in the middle of the field the ball got played wide to Jimmy Medranda who dribbled into the box and slid a ball to Bernardo Anor near the six yard box, but Anor's one time effort skied over the bar.

New York controlled much of the second half, and the game as they searched for the equalizer. NYCFC thought they'd earned a penalty kick in the 70th minute as referee Edvin Jurisevic called a hand ball in the box. Sporting immediately surrounded Jurisevic, unhappy with the call, pleading with him to confer with his assistant referee. After a conversation, Jurisevic waived off the penalty and gave a drop ball in the box.

Late in the game NYCFC picked up the pressure searching for an equalizer. In the 83rd minute a nice cross into the box found its way all the way through to Andrew Jacobsen at the back post, but Jacobsen appeared surprised that the ball made it all the way through and scuffed his shot wide of the net. In stoppage time New York had another glorious opportunity as Jeb Brovsky played a cross right into the middle of the box for an unmarked Ned Grabavoy but he put his diving header wide of the net. A minute later the final whistle blew and KC were able to walk out with all three points.

Wizards Man of the Match - Ike Opara - Scored the winner and was a rock in central defense for KC last night. Him and Besler controlled the middle of the defense shutting down Patrick Mullins and Javier Calle.

Honorable Mention - Matt Besler

Player Ratings
- Marin 6, Sinovic 7, Opara 8, Besler 8, Anibaba 6, Carrasco 6, Nagamura 6, Feilhaber 6, Zusi 5, Dwyer 4, Medranda 5. Subs Anor 4, Peterson 4, Mustivar 5.

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