Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Roller Coaster Ride to Secure a Point

I don't know if I have the words to accurately describe the way I went through the game between Sporting KC and the Houston Dynamo as they played to the highest scoring draw in KC's history, drawing 4-4. It was a roller coaster throughout, from the highs of an early lead through Krisztian Nemeth, to giving up three straight, to KC clawing their way back only to fall back behind, to finally ending up level thanks to an amazing strike by Benny Feilhaber. It wasn't the best game that KC played, marred by defensive mistakes, goalkeeper mistakes, and missed chances, but for the neutral, it would have been a fun game to watch.

KC was able to jump out to an early lead against the Dynamo thanks to Nemeth. A give away at midfield led to Nemeth leading a counter the other direction. Nemeth dribbled in on Raul Rodriguez, causing the Dynamo defender to back pedal. Near the top of the box Nemeth fired a shot into the far corner that beat Tyler Deric and gave KC the 1-0 lead early. The lead didn't last too long though as the Dynamo equalized in the 11th minute. A throw-in by Brad Davis wasn't handled by Will Bruin, the ball fell to Matt Besler whose attempted clearance went off of Servando Carrasco into the path of Giles Barnes who made no mistake firing the ball past Luis Marin and into the net tying the game at 1-1. From there, KC continued to have the better of the early going, but could not retake the lead. Dom Dwyer had two fantastic chances, once being set up by Jalil Anibaba, and the second coming from a fantastic ball from Feilhaber who played a call that was just out of reach of Deric, but Dwyer couldn't turn the effort on goal and it went wide. The earlier misses came back to haunt KC as the Dynamo came back and for the final 25 minutes of the half controlled play. They were helped by some very poor distribution by Luis Marin in KC's goal as he gave up a number of throw ins by kicking the ball directly out of bounds. Late in the half some more poor distribution by Marin led to another goal. After Marin misplayed a goal kick and it ended up leading to a Dynamo corner, Brad Davis played a great ball into the box that Will Bruin flicked on and into the net past Marin to give the Dynamo a 2-1 lead as they headed into the half time break.

Things got worse for KC less than a minute into the second half. Barnes picked up a pass near midfield with no one around him and turned and raced up field. No one stepped up to shut down his run and from about 30 yards out he let fly with a shot that went inside the near corner for a goal to put the Dynamo up 3-1. Like with the distribution earlier, questions have to be asked of Marin's positioning and his dive, as it immediately brought back memories of the goal Jermaine Jones scored on Eric Kronberg at Sporting Park last year. After the goal, the Dynamo started to sit back more, looking to focus on their strong defense, the Dynamo looked to just contain KC's attack. KC still had their chances though and should have pulled a goal back when Nemeth was played through on goal by Roger Espinoza. One on one with Deric though, Nemeth couldn't round the Houston goalkeeper and put the shot wide of the goal. The Dynamo's defense did it's job until the 74th minute when a mistake by Barnes gave KC a way back into the game. Being chased backward by Espinoza, Barnes tried to play a ball across the back towards Deric, but Dwyer read the pass and got to the ball first, touching it by Deric. The Houston keeper brought Dwyer down in the process, but Dwyer quickly got back to his feet and tapped the ball into the empty net to make it 3-2. Now within a goal, KC threw numbers forward looking for the equalizer. And within a couple minutes of the goal, they had two penalty shouts, both courtesy of Nemeth. First, Nemeth was brought down in the box by a Dynamo defender, but referee Kevin Stott didn't even look twice. Then less than a minute later in the 77th, KC again came forward and again just outside the box the ball ended up at the feet of Nemeth. The Hungarian cut inside his defender and around another before trying to put a shot past Deric. Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor got back though and knocked the ball away with his chest, although there were immediately shouts of a hand ball. Stott put his whistle in his mouth, but allowed play to continue as the ball fell to Dwyer who tried to back heel the ball into the net, eventually Deric collected the loose ball in the box, at which point Stott called the play back and gave the penalty kick for a hand ball on Taylor. The Dynamo defender also was given a red card for the hand ball. Replays showed that the ball had in fact hit Taylor's chest and no call should have been made. Feilhaber though stepped up to take the PK and slotted it into the corner to tie the game at 3-3 and with a man advantage, thoughts turned from the poor performance and stopping the bleeding to thoughts of actually taking all three points from the game.

Unfortunately those thoughts were dashed minutes later when the Dynamo won a free kick in KC's half. Brad Davis played the ball into the box where Raul Rodriguez beat Matt Besler to the ball and headed it past Marin and into the net to put the Dynamo back on top. Down a man, the Dynamo again sat back as Sporting KC attacked looking for another equalizer. In the 5th minute of stoppage time they again found it, and again Feilhaber was the hero. The ball got played wide to Dwyer who tried to cross the ball into the middle of the box, but his cross was deflected on it's way through and floated towards the top of the box where Graham Zusi was, Zusi played a cushioned header right into the path of Feilhaber who let the ball bounce a couple times before firing a laser of a shot right into the post at Deric's left side, tying the game at 4-4 as both teams took a point from the game.

Wizards Man of the Match - Benny Feilhaber - Him and Ike Opara had been the best players on KC since the start of the season. With Opara out, Feilhaber has continued to play strong and was fantastic for KC last night. Better finishing by Dwyer would have seen him get an assist in the first half, tied the game once from the penalty spot, and his blast in second half stoppage time secured a point.

Player Ratings: Marin 2, de Jong 3, Besler 4, Ellis 3, Anibaba 4, Carrasco 4, Espinoza 5, Feilhaber 8, Zusi 6, Dwyer 5, Nemeth 6. Subs Mustivar 5, Dia 5, Hallisey NR.

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