Monday, July 11, 2016

Sporting Top East Leaders

Sporting Kansas City continued their good recent run of form, extending their unbeaten run in MLS play to five games with a 3-1 win over New York City FC. The offense is finally starting to click and score goals after looking anemic for the first couple months of the season and the defense is still holding strong with both center backs who started the season now on the bench. Sporting almost made it look easy against the Eastern Conference leaders, pinning them back in their own end and allowing just three shots on goal all game, just one after the 14th minute.

The game started out at a frantic pace with Sporting Kansas City really pushing the game and pressuring NYCFC early on. The early pressure paid off in just the eighth minute when Benny Feilhaber was the first to react to a rebound off the post on a redirected shot by Jacob Peterson to tap the ball into the net to make it 1-0 Kansas City. Kansas City continued to push forward after the early goal and were almost immediately exposed on the counter by Jack Harrison and NYCFC has he raced by Jimmy Medranda and fired a shot on goal that Tim Melia pushed wide. A poor give away by KC in 14th minute gave New York their equalizer. Ike Opara made a poor pass forward that Andrea Pirlo knocked down and played to David Villa in a two-v-two situation. Villa fed it back to Pirlo who played it to an overlapping Ronald Matarrita who squared a pass into the middle of the box where Frank Lampard had ghosted in unmarked and he passed the ball into the near post past Melia. The game wasn't level long though as KC retook the lead two minutes later. A Feilhaber corner kick didn't get over the first man and was cleared to Medranda who was able to bring the ball down line his shot up and fire it on goal. NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders had a clear view of it and dove to save it but the ball bounced right in front of him and over and into the net to put Kansas City back on top 2-1. Kansas City continued to push things looking to extend their lead with Roger Espinoza having a shot from outside the box saved by Saunders, then before half Diego Rubio really should have made it 3-1 after a ball found its way to him in the box, but his attempt at a curling shot into the corner went well high and wide of the goal.

Kansas City continued the pressure in the second half and found the third goal just five minutes in. After NYCFC failed to fully clear a corner the ball fell to Feilhaber at the top of the box who slid a ball through to Opara who had been up for the corner. Opara was brought down in the box but got up quickly and touched a shot past Saunders that rolled into the net to put KC up 3-1. NYCFC just didn't seem to really get into the game as Sporting was able to shut down their midfield and limit New York to just 33% possession for the game. KC continued to create chances of their own with Brad Davis firing just over the bar and Rubio having another chance at a goal late on after some good work down the wing by Connor Hallisey. Hallisey played a ball into the box that Rubio skillfully brought down and turned but couldn't get a good shot off with a defender right on his shoulder. It wasn't needed though as KC was able to cruise to victory over the Eastern Conference leaders.

Wizards Man of the Match - Benny Feilhaber - Looked like the 2015 version of Feilhaber has been showing up recently for KC, Feilhaber had another solid performance, scoring a goal and setting up Opara's goal as well. He was also all over the field running the offense for Kansas City.

Honorable Mention - Roger Espinoza

Player Ratings - Melia 6, Medranda 7, Olum 7, Opara 7, Abdul-Salaam 7, Mustivar 8, Espinoza 8, Feilhaber 8, Davis 7, Rubio 6, Peterson 6. Subs Hallisey 6, Coelho NR, Mapp NR.

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