Friday, June 03, 2016

Not There Yet, But That's a Start

It wasn't the prettiest game of soccer that you're ever going to see played, but Sporting Kansas City may have taken a step forward in turning around what has quickly become a disaster of a season for the club. Having won just one of their last 10 games, going to LA to take on a team that had lost just once in their last 10 games most fans were expecting little to nothing from Kansas City out of last night's game against the Galaxy. KC had one of the lowest goals per game average in the league, while LA has the highest, it was a recipe for a blow out against KC, but Sporting stepped up and shut down the strong LA attack, holding them to just a single shot over 90 minutes. While the offense for Kansas City continued its finishing issues, the defense tightened up and shut down the Galaxy attack.

While KC's defense was able to shut down the Galaxy attack they did so mainly by allowing the Galaxy to possess the ball a lot while KC sat in to break up their chances. The Galaxy dominated possession, holding over 60% of the possession over the course of the entire game, but as Kansas City has shown time and again this season, possession doesn't always pay off as an organized and stingy KC defense forced the Galaxy into possessing the ball well away from KC's goal. LA tried to find a way through by overloading Kansas City's left side and focusing their offensive pressure on KC's least experienced outside back, Jimmy Medranda, but KC's defense held firm in the first half as Medranda got help from Roger Espinoza, Connor Hallisey, and Lawrence Olum when Medranda got pulled out of position. While LA held the possession it was Kansas City that looked the more dangerous when they did get forward. On the offensive end of the field, Medranda continued to show well for KC getting himself some looks on goal throughout the game but would see his efforts blocked or saved by Brian Rowe. Medranda's continued presence as the main offensive catalyst for KC though has to be the next problem for KC to address, the team can't continue to rely on their left back to be their main offense creator. KC's best chance though came in the 40th minute when Dom Dwyer got played in behind the LA defense. A little to the left of the goal Dwyer controlled the ball and tried to slide the ball past the oncoming Rowe, but Dwyer got his angle off and put the ball well wide of the post and out for a goal kick.

The second half saw Kansas City make some defensive changes to give Medranda more cover dealing with the Galaxy attack and it made things even harder for the Galaxy to get forward. While the Galaxy continued to control the game, it was the kind of meaningless possession around midfield and in an arc around the box that KC fans are used to seeing from Kansas City. Sporting's compact defense kept the Galaxy from getting clear, strong looks on goal. Offensively it was still the Medranda show as he had the best of KC's chances forcing a save from Rowe on a curling shot from the top of the box near the middle of the half. Also off a short corner he fired a shot/cross to the back post but no one could get a foot on it to touch it into the net and it rolled through for a goal kick. KC kept getting chances, earning eight corners, but continued to struggle with set piece finishing. In the end Kansas City was able to get the draw and will have some measure of satisfaction going into the Copa America break, hopefully after a little time away the players come back and can now work on fixing the finishing issue the team currently has.

Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Medranda - Medranda yet again has been the spark for Kansas City, it's disappointing that the spark continues to be at left back, but Medranda once again had a very good game. Compared to the experiment last year at left back he seems to have become a smarter player and is getting the help from the players around him to make the transition much smoother. He did a good job of containing the Galaxy's attack on his side and was consistently the most dangerous player for KC when he got forward.

Honorable Mention: Ike Opara, Lawrence Olum

Player Ratings - Melia 6, Medranda 8, Opara 8, Olum 7, Abdul-Salaam 6, Feilhaber 6, Espinoza 6, Nagamura 5, Hallisey 4, Dwyer 3, Peterson 3. Subs Myers 5, Rubio NR.

1 comment:

Ky said...

I turned off the match at halftime. SKC adhered to the mantra of "win at home tie on the road" so it is great to get the point. Perhaps this is the start (as your article is titled) to get us going again.

However, I looked at the post match stats and saw the offensive substitutions and I was glad that I did not watch the second half. If our fullbacks are the preferred attacking substitution, we have a serious problem with our attacking depth. It still baffles me that we are not providing our DP with meaningful minutes. Even if he does not find the back of the net it is really no worse than we are performing now. I think Rubio has a higher performance ceiling than the nearly all the forwards in the stable.