Thursday, February 23, 2017

Great Goals and Defensive Mistakes Highlight Sporting Loss to New England

The penultimate preseason game for Sporting KC didn't go exactly as the club probably would have liked it in Tucson against the New England Revolution. A number of defensive errors helped to allow the Revolution to score six goals against Sporting KC. Five of those six goals were scored against what could be described as the club's second team, as Peter Vermes rested his "starters" until the final 14 minutes. Sporting could only respond with a pair of goals, both very well taken and scored from distance by Jimmy Medranda and Graham Zusi. Unfortunately you can't win the game on style points as KC fell 6-2 to the Revolution.

Things couldn't have started any worse for KC as before a full minute had been played the club was down 1-0 as Andrew Dykstra committed the first of many mistakes by Sporting's defense on the day, not holding a simple low cross and Daigo Kobayashi pounced first poking the ball home to put the Revs up 1-0. Sporting responded by controlling a good portion of the rest of the first half creating a number of chances. Medranda leveled the scoring in the 21st minute as he brought down a long ball from Benji Joya, cut inside and fired a curling shot around Brad Knighton and into the far corner to level the game at 1-1. KC continued the pressure and had the better of the chances in the rest of the first half, the best a back heel by Latif Blessing right on the doorstep, but right at Knighton after New England couldn't clear a corner.

The second half is when things changed though, unlike Sporting who stuck with pretty much the same lineup for the first 76 minutes, New England made full changes at half time, bringing on their starters for the second 45 minutes. It took less than 10 minutes to take advantage of having fresher legs, as KC slowly worked the ball out of the back a Joya pass to Jimmy Medranda was poor and picked off by the Revolution going the other way. With KC on the attack, Igor Juliao was up the field leaving just Joya to cover the right side of defense. Lee Nguyen played a through ball to Juan Agudelo who raced past Joya and put a shot past Dykstra and into the net to put the Revs on top 2-1. Things got worse six minutes later when a Kei Kamara cross to the back post was tapped home by Agudelo as Juliao didn't follow his runner to the back post, a simple tap in for the US international. In the 67th minute Sporting was down 4-1 as more defensive errors led to another Revolution goal. Dykstra came off his line towards the corner of the box to pressure Nguyen who had been played. Nguyen got around Dykstra and played a ball to the back post where Juliao had this time lost Diego Fagundez who easily scored to extend the lead. New England extended the lead to 5-1 on a penalty kick converted by Nguyen after Kamara was fouled in the box. Shortly after the penalty kick goal, Sporting made full changes to the team, bringing on the regular starters for the final 14 minutes. Unfortunately they couldn't stop the bleeding as the Revolution were able to grab a sixth goal. As Fagundez and Nguyen made crossing runs in front of Zusi and Ike Opara, Zusi stayed with Fagundez instead of passing him off to Opara. Opara meanwhile let Nguyen slide out wide leaving two players on Fagundez and no one on Nguyen who Fagundez picked out and Nguyen got around Adrian Zendejas and scored to give New England an even half dozen. KC pulled one more goal back late on another long distance shot, this time by Zusi who fired from close to 30 yards out and Cody Cropper to his near side as the shot hit off the underside of the cross bar and in.

Sporting have one final game in the Desert Diamond Cup, there's been no official announcement yet on the opponent, but some reports out of New York are that it's New York City FC.


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