Sporting KC finished up their three games in seven day stretch in Salt Lake last night. Making some more changes to his eleven, Peter Vermes tired some further squad rotation to give some guys a break after a busy week. With the changes and exhaustion from the week, it wasn't surprising how the game started, with Salt Lake on the front foot.
KC had a good opportunity early on to take the lead on the counter though. On a ball over the top to Dom Dwyer, the Englishman found himself in behind the Salt Lake defense, but a lack of speed and a poor touch allowed Salt Lake's defense to recover before Dwyer could get a shot off. In the 34th minute, KC has made to pay for that early miss as Javier Morales was able to bring the ball down and weave between Soni Musivar, Marcel de Jong, and Matt Besler before slotting the ball past Tim Melia and into the net to make it 1-0 Salt Lake. RSL continued to pressure KC and looked the more likely to extend their lead. In the 43rd minute they almost did as Joao Plata was picked out on a cross to the back post, Plata's effort went over Melia but hit the cross bar and bounced away from danger as KC went into the half down 1-0.
At half time, Vermes made two changes, bringing on Benny Feilhaber and Amadou Dia for Mustivar and de Jong who'd both had poor first halves. It took Feilhaber just four minutes to impose his will on the game, receiving the ball about 25 yards or so from goal, Feilhaber fired a shot that beat Jeff Attinella and leveled the game for Kansas City. The game became more of a back and forth affair with both teams having their chances get he lead. In the 60th minute Salt Lake again made it look too easy getting through KC's defense as the ball got wide to Devon Sandoval out wide, his shot beat Melia, but didn't beat the post as the ball bounced back into play. At the other end of the field, Jacob Peterson should have given KC the lead. After some work down the left, the ball got knocked towards the corner by Salt Lake, Krisztian Nemeth raced onto the ball and played the ball into the middle for Peterson, but Attinella came up with a big save to deny Peterson. The miss proved costly in the 71st minute as Olmes Garcia raced down the side and beat Erik Palmer-Brown to get into the box, Melia had come off his line, but Garcia touched the ball past him and was fouled by the KC goalkeeper. Referee Allen Chapman immediately pointed to the spot. Plata stepped up for Salt Lake and put the ball low into the corner, Melia guessed right but couldn't get his hand on the shot. Shortly after KC had another good opportunity to score as Dwyer found space in the box and played a ball back across goal for Peterson who was all alone, but again his shot couldn't beat Attinella who made a good save getting across the goal. KC struggled to create chances from there and Salt Lake was able to take the 2-1 win.
Wizards Man of the Match - Benny Feilhaber - Winning this for last night has as much to do with how poor the KC offense looked in the first half as it does with his performance in the second half. KC just looked completely incapable of doing much in the offensive half of the field without Feilhaber (or Graham Zusi) on the field. In the second he provided the spark KC needed.
Player Ratings - Melia 4, Abdul-Salaam 4, Palmer-Brown 4, Besler 4, de Jong 3, Mustivar 4, Espinoza 5, Nagamura 4, Nemeth 4, Dwyer 4, Peterson 3. Subs Feilhaber 6, Dia 4, Hallisey 3.