Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sporting's Defenders Help KC Rescue a Point in Trinidad

Sporting Kansas City's defenders had their scoring boots on in Trinidad tonight and helped Sporting kick off their CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a 2-2 draw against Trinidad side, Central FC. Fielding a team that featured just one player who started on the weekend against FC Dallas and no Benny Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer in the 18, it was Seth Sinovic and Kevin Ellis who helped fill the scoring gap for Kansas City.

The first half was a straight even match up between the two teams with both sides have some decent chances but both goalkeepers making some saves. Just four minutes in Jon Kempin was called into his first action for Sporting as some miscommunication between Kevin Ellis and Amer Didic allowed Kenwyne Jones to get some space to fire a shot from the top of the box, but it was on the ground and easily saved by Kempin. From there Kansas City started to control the game finding a lot of freedom down the wings against Central FC. Sinovic and Saad Abdul-Salaam were able to get forward often and combine with Connor Hallisey and Brad Davis to create space on the wing. Hallisey was involved in both of KC's best chances, first being played in by Roger Espinoza, but his shot hit the side netting and minutes later he returned the favor to Espinoza, but Sporting's captain saw his shot tipped away by Central's Javon Sample. Late in the half it was Central that started to create opportunities of their own and in the 41st thought they'd taken the lead when Jones headed in a free kick while going into Kempin. The Costa Rican referee called the goal back for a foul on Jones there for running into Kempin. Minutes later Jones had another header, getting over Ellis, but his downward header was easily handled by Kempin.

Just six minutes into the second half Kansas City were able to get themselves on the scoreboard. On a free kick about 25 yards from goal, Davis put his initial kick right into the wall. Davis collected the rebound off the wall and floated a cross to the back post for Sinovic who took a touch that got a little away from him. The ball ended up pinging off the trailing defender as he tried to knock the ball away, it then hit off Sinovic and past Sample and into the net to put KC on top 1-0. The lead only lasted three minutes though as KC had their own defensive issues. After the ball landed in the box Abdul-Salaam shielded a ball for Kempin to come grab but the KC goalkeeper was too slow to react to it while Abdul-Salaam didn't just get rid of the ball. As Kempin came for it, Central's Sean De Silva got a foot in before him knocking the ball to Marcus Joseph who fired past Kempin to tie the game at 1-1. KC's defense, still reeling from the first goal immediately gave up a second as Joseph played in a streaking Jones who'd left Didic well in the dust as he raced on goal and beat Kempin to make it 2-1 Central. After giving up the second goal KC seemed to settle down and put Central on the back foot for the rest of the game. KC pushed for the equalizer but some good goalkeeping by Sample kept Central in front as he made a good save on Davis after some work down the left. The equalizer did come for Kansas City in the 71st when Davis played a nice through ball into the box for Ellis who'd come forward on the play. Ellis rounded Sample as he went to ground and fired the ball into the net showing off some of his old skills as a forward to tie the game at 2-2. With the game level Kansas City went looking for a winner and certainly had the better of the chances and Diego Rubio and Nuno Coelho both had good efforts saved by the Central goalkeeper. Cameron Porter had a good header on goal but couldn't get enough power on it and very late on Abdul-Salaam beat his man to the ball and had a cross go all the way through the box without anyone touching it. Moments later the final whistle blew. Kansas City now sit tied with Central for second place in the group with one point. Next week they travel to Vancouver who currently lead the group with three points.

Wizards Man of the Match - Kevin Ellis - Did a decent job of keeping Kenwyne Jones in check for much of the game, limiting his chances on goal and then showed the skill and patience of a forward to beat Sample to tie the game at 2-2.

Player Ratings - Kempin 4, Abdul-Salaam 5, Didic 5, Ellis 6, Sinovic 5, Mustivar 4, Espinoza 6, Nagamura 4, Hallisey 5, Rubio 4, Davis 5. Subs Alvarado 5, Coelho 5, Porter NR.

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