Three Things: Sporting KC draw with the Colorado Rapids

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Sporting KC
Felipe Gutierrez runs the ball back to the halfway line after scoring for Sporting KC Mandatory Credit: John Ababiak

EDITORIAL (March 25, 2018) – After hearing for an entire week that Sporting KC’s backline issues were just a phase, “not a trend,” and certainly nothing to be concerned about, they went and did it again in the first ten minutes of their match against Colorado. Luckily, they were the far superior team for the remaining 80 minutes and were able to salvage a draw, on the road, in altitude. Here are three things to take away from last night’s match.

Three Things from the Sporting KC Draw

The Backline Continues to be a Worry

It’s not just one player, it’s all of them. Ike Opara has been the culprit a good portion of the time, as three of the nine goals scored against them were scored when he pushed too far up into the midfield to win the ball back. But as I said, it’s not just him. Zusi got beat for the first goal last night, and the second one was a complete breakdown of their high-line.

That type of play is a more serious concern in my opinion. Dominique Badji, the Rapids primary goalscorer last night said, “We knew that they were going to play a high line, as you can see it was a perfect example on Joe’s (Mason) goal, just play the ball behind him and make him run towards their goal, and even on the ball (Edgar) Castillo played me, just getting behind their line, as I said – they are aggressive, they play a high line, so they are very vulnerable in the back”

If they’re going to play this high-line, the shape and discipline of what the line is doing has to be the same, and it has to be understood by all four of them. It hasn’t been, multiple times, especially in the last two games. That discipline is what is killing them at the moment. Either of two things need to happen. They need to drop the attempt to play a high-line, or they need get more disciplined. We’ll see if they start to make any changes soon.

Felipe Gutierrez is the Best Player Sporting KC Have (ever?) Had

Gutierrez was the best player on the field, again. He leads the team in goals, and is continuing to assert himself as a force within the league. This tweet from Jason Foster gives you a nice look at his stat sheet last night:

Gutierrez has been incredible for Sporting KC. He may not have been credited with an assist on Diego Rubio’s goal, but he probably deserved one with the pass he made to Gerso Fernandes to start that sequence. Sporting KC would be lost if they didn’t have that man roaming the middle of the park.

Khiry Shelton has Looked More Comfortable Every Game

After a rough first sixty minutes to the year with Diego Rubio up top, Sporting KC threw Khiry Shelton into the following matchup with Chicago. He wasn’t too effective through the first 55 minutes, and he wasn’t 90 minutes fit. He went 80 minutes in the following game against the San Jose Earthquakes and actually looked more comfortable with some of the combination play and movement to the front three.

Last night, he finally got some production. He had two shots on goal, had one shot that got blocked, and provided the assist on Diego Rubio’s equalizer. His hold up play was excellent, and he also played a nice role in Felipe Gutierrez’s goal, in which he shielded the defender and opened up the space for Gutierrez’s strike to find the bottom corner. He may not be the long term solution up top for Sporting KC, but he’s someone that can clearly help out now, and is growing into his role game by game.

 

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