Sporting KC Beat LA Galaxy 2-1: Three Takeaways From The Result

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KANSAS CITY, KS - SEPTEMBER 20: Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi (30) celebrates his second half goal in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final between the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City on September 20, 2017 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS. The goal proved to be the winner as Sporting Kansas City won 2-1. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Editorial (September 26, 2017) – Who said anything about a cup hangover? Sporting KC beat LA Galaxy 2-1 on Sunday afternoon after winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. The result shouldn’t really have surprised anyone.

Sporting KC Beat LA Galaxy 2-1: Three Takeaways From The Result

Dániel Sallói and Diego Rubio scored for the home side. Sporting played their game, using the counter to slice and dice the Galaxy defense. The Galaxy were weak defensively after a good start (the opening 15-ish minutes). They adjusted in the second half. Romain Alessandrini continues to be the team MVP, scoring the first non-PK set piece goal for the club this season.

All that said, here’s three takeaways from the match:

Sporting Isn’t Running Out Of Gas:

Kansas City were all business from the first minute in this game. Unlike past seasons, we haven’t seen SKC sputter in August/September to back into the playoffs. The veteran core is leading but still has their legs with them. As my colleague Daniel Sperry wrote last week, the young group has come through as well.

This team has depth in ways they haven’t in year’s past. They showed it in this game with a slightly hybrid lineup. The kids got the goals and they earned them. They tore the Galaxy apart with seven players making a third start in the last nine days, including the entire back four.

The Galaxy Are Still Bad And Lost, Especially At The Back:

The opening 20 minutes of this match followed almost the exact script as the previous two games for the Galaxy: They possess the ball very well. They get a few encouraging half chances. Giovani dos Santos looks alive. The defense doesn’t give the opponent any room to work.

Then the opponent gets one half chance. It doesn’t look dangerous at first, but turns into a goal because of some ignominious defensive error. Then everything falls apart. Heads go down. The opponent gets another goal. The team makes some changes to improve in the second half, but never really threatens the outcome.

In this game in particular, Gyasi Zardes and Michael Ciani in particular did not look good on the two goals. Ciani continues to look slow and passive. As Landon Donovan pointed out on the broadcast, there doesn’t seem to be a plan right now. Leadership and organization is lacking at the back and up the middle. There doesn’t seem to be a strategy in the attack. Other than Alessandrini, they are lacking in good ideas and executions. This team looks to be mailing in the last few months of the season.

Zardes At Right Back???

So, Gyasi Zardes started at right back in this match. This has been something the Galaxy had tried out in training. This was the first time in his career Zardes played somewhere besides forward or winger.

I hesitate to jump to conclusions about a player making their first professional start in a new position. Plenty of players have made a recent transition to fullback in MLS (Graham Zusi, Robbie Rogers, and Matt Polster just to name a few). Zardes certainly has the speed for the position. He can get forward and be a weapon from the back when he overlaps.

If you’re going to be a defender, you need to be able to mark and defend 1-v-1. Zardes did not do that in this game. He was out of position on Sporting’s second goal. He didn’t track back well enough. He was careless on the ball at times too.

It’s still to early to draw conclusions on this position switch. Regardless, for Zardes to be a viable option at right back, he is going to have to get better at things he’s never been asked to do before as a professional.

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