Kansas City, KS (September 9th 2016)– In Sporting KC’s first match since the international break, they ended up laying a dud. The Houston Dynamo was on the back foot from the opening two or three minutes. A goal from Jacob Peterson, and a golazo from Roger Espinoza inside the opening half an hour had them up 2-0. Houston got right back into the game and made it 2-1 at halftime. The Dynamo then equalized within ten minutes of the restart, and were looking to add a third. After Sporting KC moved ahead in the 80th minute, the result seemed locked up. A stoppage time goal from Raúl Rodriguez made it 3-3. What went wrong for Sporting in this match? We’ll take a look at both the negatives and the positives, and take a look at the current postseason picture.
Sporting KC Draw In Disappointing Match
Dom Dwyer On the Scoresheet
Dom Dwyer returned to the scoresheet tonight, and frankly could’ve had three or four goals. Joe Willis did well to stop him on multiple occasions before Dwyer got the final say in the 80th minute. His movement was lively, he was physical, and frankly he looked like the Dom Dwyer of old. Those are good signs for the stretch run.
The 30-year-old Peterson has been having the season on his life, now with five goals this year. He’s easily earned himself a spot in the lineup when Graham Zusi returns from injury. Tonight he made good runs, got in the right positions, and actually defended pretty well.
THE ENTIRE LEFT SIDE
Brad Davis was pretty dang awful tonight. His first touch was lacking, and his age was showing. By that, I mean that he looked a step behind all night long. The lack of rotation to the left side is what led to the first goal that Houston scored, according to Peter Vermes in his postgame comments. One thing not mentioned was Matt Besler being out of position. That in itself led to two to three goals scored tonight. Besler at left back worked for the national team when guys like Fabian Johnson, fit and able two way players, were playing with him on the left. With Davis on the left, Besler got caught way too far out, and had difficulty tracking the overlapping runs. Vermes opting to play Besler there instead of the natural fullback, Seth Sinovic, is a decision that proved costly.
As Vermes pointed out in his press conference, the first goal came from the team not rotating left properly. “A simple move within the game of soccer that we failed to do, and it cost us a goal.” All the goals were scored by severe mental lapses from the backline and midfield. The second was the result of Besler getting caught pushing up too high and missed the overlap. The third mental lapse was giving away a set piece in a dangerous area late in the match. These simple lapses just can’t happen for a team making a postseason push.
The Bigger Picture
This result doesn’t change the fact that Sporting KC are most likely going to be in the postseason. It does, however, put pressure on the next few games. With a home match against the LA Galaxy looming next week, failure to get all three points again may just break the Western Conference playoff race wide open. San Jose and Seattle play each other on September 10. The winner could actually move ahead of Sporting KC if they were to win all three matches in hand they have on Sporting KC. Sporting now sits at 38 points with 29 games played. Seattle is at 31 points with 26 games played and San Jose has 32 points with 26 games played as well. Sporting are still likely to secure a postseason spot, but most likely won’t be able to move high enough up the table to avoid the one game playoff.
Sporting has a quick turnaround, with a CONCACAF Champions League match this coming Tuesday against Vancouver Whitecaps. After that, they’ll face the Fighting Landon Donovans (LA Galaxy) on September 18th, in one of the MLS Sunday Primetime match-ups. If they want to advance to the next round of the CCL, they’ll need to win on Tuesday, and they’ll need to defend much better.