Kansas City (May 3rd, 2017)- Another Sporting KC clean sheet, another Sporting KC three points. Thanks to an outstanding save from Tim Melia, and a Dom Dwyer brace, SKC knocked off New York Red Bulls to move first place in the Western Conference.
Dom Dwyer Brace, Sixth Clean Sheet of the Year Propel Sporting KC to Midweek Win
Sporting KC elected not to play a weaker squad with their three games in nine days on the schedule for the first time. New York did. Sporting KC dominated, in turn. Shocking? Not really.
Sporting KC also have the luxury of an extra day off, and having two of the three games at home back-to-back. Throw in the fact that their travel is only to Minneapolis, a whopping 453 miles away, they had it pretty easy.
In the first half, Sporting had more chances, but the Red Bulls had one big one that probably changed the tide of this game. If Fredrik Gulbrandsen takes his one-on-one with Tim Melia a little better, it might have been 1-0 at the half. But Tim Melia made an incredible finger-tip save, keeping the first half at a scoreless draw.
Sporting KC were determined to come out and get an early goal in the second half, with even some rumors of Dom Dwyer even claiming he would score in the first minute. Whether it’s true or not, he apparently called his shot. Dwyer scored on a pin-ball like sequence that saw him clean up a blocked shot right in front of goal, and blast it home.
Sporting KC then put its chokehold on the game. The goal forced Red Bull to get out of their own shell a bit and go for it. On came Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan. It wouldn’t make a difference though as Dom Dwyer finished off his second after a lovely switch of the play by Jimmy Medranda over to Benny Feilhaber. His seeing eye, worm-burner of a cross found its way to Dwyer who roofed off the crossbar and in.
If you couldn’t tell by the title, Sporting KC held on for a clean sheet, their sixth of the season. Here is what Peter Vermes had to say about their performance, not just tonight, but as a whole this season:
“We’re very good at not giving the ball away in critical areas of the field, and it limits the number of chances the other team has, and can create chances,” the SKC manager said. “The final piece is there is an incredible, conscientious mentality of the group to defend. And when you have that, it’s very difficult to break that down and your team becomes very difficult to play against. We have to keep doing that, and that’s the key”
It’s clear that they have all bought into what Peter is selling. Don’t believe it? Ask their captain, Matt Besler.
“We made it very clear early on the style that we wanted to play, and we decided as a team that we were all gonna buy into that,” Besler remarked. “And it was important that every single guy on the team, from the first guy to the last guy all believed in what we could achieve. From the very first day we talked about it, and started working on it.”
For Sporting, they knew what they had coming into this. They knew there were some good pieces, some upgrades. They know there is a bigger goal, and they are working hard towards that goal. They don’t seem complacent, or satisfied with what they’ve done over nine games. They know there is a bigger goal.
Sporting KC have made the playoffs in their last six seasons. It’s not an achievement anymore, it’s an expectation. And frankly, so is their current form.
“I don’t see it as ‘Oh my gosh, we’re really playing well right now.’ This is what we expect,” Vermes emphasized. “The key is that we continue to grow from here and keep getting better and are able to do it consistently.”
It’s simple. While they are flying, and have been incredible, they know this means nothing if they can’t put together a deep run come postseason. Just ask Dom Dwyer.
“We’ve said it before. We don’t want to just make playoffs and do other stuff, we want to achieve something this year.”