Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Comeback for the Ages

For 80 minutes last night against the Vancouver Whitecaps it looked like Sporting KC was on their way to their first home loss of the season. While Sporting had controlled play against Vancouver and created a number of chances the Whitecaps speed on the counter killed Kansas City as Kekuta Manneh ran roughshod over the KC back line. Then KC came alive and the final 10 minutes was an amazing turnaround that saw Kansas City steal not just one, but all three points to win.

It all started poorly for KC as in the ninth minute a poor pass by Soni Mustivar allowed Manneh to beat Kevin Ellis to the ball and start a 4 on 1 counter in the Whitecaps favor. Manneh took it himself as he dribbled into the box and slotted the ball past Tim Melia and ino the net. KC controlled the game against the Whitecaps, but struggled to create chances, and when they did create chances David Ousted and his defense stepped up. In the 21st, Dom Dwyer and Krisztian Nemeth combined well at the top of the box that allowed Nemeth to get in behind the Vancouver defense. Oustad though was quick off his line and blocked the effort. Benny Feilhaber was following the play, but his effort was blocked to Connor Hallisey who had another go, but Jordan Harvey made a very good save to keep it 1-0. Oustad also came up big on Paulo Nagamura after a brilliant ball by Feilhaber found Nagamura racing into the box, but Oustad was quick off his line and was able to cut down Nagamura's angle. KC's attacking though left them open to the counter and numerous times the Whitecaps threatened to get in behind the KC back line again. The play out of the back was poor enough that Peter Vermes pulled left back Jimmy Medranda after only 34 minutes. His replacement Amadou Dia though didn't have a great go of it either as in the 41st a giveaway by him near midfield led to the second goal for the Whitecaps. Steven Beitashour forced the giveaway on Dia near midfield. He raced down the line and played a cross into the box for Manneh who headed it back across the goal and into the net past Melia to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead as the teams headed into half time. KC had been played off the field in the first half and was deservedly down, they had no way to deal with Vancouver's counter, and at the offensive end of the field the Whitecaps were making KC go through Hallisey for the most part instead of the way KC prefer, using Feilhaber and Nemeth more.

Vermes tried to adjust that more at half time, bringing on Jacob Peterson for Hallisey to try to give KC more in the attack. KC continued to be the side pressing the game and in the 53rd found some life. Off a short Feilhaber corner played to the top of the box for Dia, the rookie fired a shot that was deflected into the air. Mustivar was the first one to react to the ball, getting there as it was headed out of bounds and knocking the ball back into the middle. Ellis was there to head the ball into the net and give KC some life early in the second. KC continued to push but the Whitecaps also created chances of their own with Melia at least twice being called upon to make saves in one on one situations. Again it was Manneh at the center of it, leading a counter before laying the ball off to Octavio Rivero. Melia was quick off his line though and as Rivero was able to give him no where to shoot and knocked the ball away. Then in the 72nd Manneh was played in behind the back line, this time though Manneh tried to beat Melia with a quick shot but Melia got down well and made the save. A couple minutes later though Vancouver had made it 3-1. After a handball by Nagamura at the top of the box, Pedro Morales stepped up and curled a ball into the far corner past Melia and into the net. At that point one would assume it was game over for KC, but things were only getting started. KC cut the lead back to one goal in the 81st minute as Dia and Nemeth combined on the left before Nemeth played a ball into the box toward Dwyer. The ball went over Pa Modou Kah to Dwyer who headed the ball into the corner to make it 3-2 to the Whitecaps with just under 10 minutes to play. Five minutes later in the 86th minute, KC was level. The ball was played wide to Chance Myers near the corner of the box. Myers took a touch back and laid the ball into the middle of the box for Nagamura who blasted a shot into the corner that leveled the game and sent Sporting Park into a frenzy. The openness of the game continued as the game wound down with both teams creating opportunities as the match came to a close. In the end it was KC that made the most of the opportunities created and sealed the amazing come back late in stoppage time. Mustivar floated a short ball into the box where Nagamura adjusted his run to get to the ball in front of Kah, heading it into the net and causing mass hysteria at Sporting Park. KC ran out the rest of the game and walked away with a huge three points that puts them in third in the West with games in hand on everyone still.

Wizards Man of the Match - Paulo Nagamura - No one really had a good first half, or much of a good game, but Nagamura replicated the heart he had against New England last year. Only this time his hard work to score two goals was rewarded with a dramatic win for KC.

Player Ratings - Melia 6, Medranda 3, Ellis 5, Besler 5, Abdul-Salaam 4, Mustivar 5, Nagamura 7, Feilhaber 5, Hallisey 3, Dwyer 5, Nemeth 4. Subs Dia 4, Peterson 5, Myers 6.

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