Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sporting Top Vancouver

It wasn't as dramatic as last year's win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, but Sporting KC once again topped the Canadian side at Children's Mercy Park 2-1. The first half saw Kansas City play their best half of soccer in recent memory as the team passed the ball around well, created openings and finding chances. When they didn't have the ball, the high pressure was back in full force for Kansas City. The high pressure paid off early for KC in just the fifth minute Sporting forced Deybi Flores to turn the ball over to Dom Dwyer. Dwyer turned and raced towards goal before firing a shot from 25 yards out that flew past David Ousted, off the underside of the cross bar and into the net KC kept up the pressure but almost got hurt by Vancouver's speed on the counter in the 20th minute. Kekuta Manneh beat the offside trap and got in on goal one-on-one with Tim Melia but Melia made a good save low to his left to keep Sporting in front 1-0. Sporting did a good job from there of regaining control of the game and were rewarded with a second goal in the 41st minute. Graham Zusi received the ball on the left wing, and cut back inside on his defender, Jordan Smith. Zusi then curled the ball into the box on the far side to Chance Myers who timed his run perfectly. Myers one timed a ball back across the box to Dwyer who'd made a run unmarked to the back post. Dwyer had a simple finish to double the lead on what was a beautifully worked goal. Things got worse for the Whitecaps in first half stoppage time when they were reduced to 10 men after Smith brought Zusi down with a tackle from behind. A poor challenge by the left back that got none of the ball and all of Zusi's leg and for the second time in two games KC would get to spend 45 minutes up a man.

KC seemed content for long periods of the second half to just pass the ball around and kill the clock, which brought down the intensity of the game some. Sporting though did create chances up a man. In the 59th minute, Dwyer almost finished his hattrick off on a long ball over the top by Nuno Coelho. Dwyer raced onto the ball, beating Oustad to it and flicking it over him towards goal, but a recovering Kendall Waston headed it clear before Dwyer could recover to knock the ball into the net. Ten minutes later Sporting gave the Whitecaps a lifeline as Melia brought down Octavio Rivero in the box. Jordan Harvey had played a nice ball through into the box for Rivero. The Sporting goalkeeper raced off his line to try to beat Rivero to the ball, but missed, getting the player. It was really a move that Melia didn't have to make, Rivero was still to the side of the box and Myers and Coelho were both in good positions to handle the situation. The penalty was called though and Pedro Morales stepped up and sent Melia the wrong way to make it 2-1. Vancouver tried to find an equalizer late on, but KC's defense was able to hold off the 10 men Vancouver side to pick up their second win.

Wizards Man of the Match - Roger Espinoza - Espinoza looks to be back in the form he showed as his peak at defensive midfield. Charles Gooch on Talkin' Touches said Espinoza makes players go down that dark alley they don't want to go down and at the end of the alley is Soni Mustivar. Espinoza was again so good at just forcing Morales to go exactly where he did not want to go, it was a fantastic job by Espinoza.

Player Ratings - Melia 6, Dia 6, Besler 7, Coelho 7, Myers 8, Mustivar 8, Espinoza 8, Quintilla 7, Hallisey 5, Dwyer 7, Zusi 7. Subs Medranda 5, Davis 6, Abdul-Salam NR.

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