Kansas City, KS (September 18th, 2016)- Landon Donovan’s first goal after coming out of retirement will be the major talking point of Sporting KC’s 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy. Sporting KC came back to take a 2-1 lead, thanks to Dwyer’s 50th Goal in MLS. But Donovan’s 145th goal sends both teams home with a point. What were the positives, negatives, and how does this effect the playoff race going forward?
Sporting KC Draw 2-2 With LA Galaxy
Saad Abudl-Salaam has been quite the underrated player for Sporting KC this year, and his quality was almost the difference in the match. After falling asleep on Los Angeles’ first goal, Salaam stepped up and shut down Emanuel Boateng for the rest of the match. He also made a heads up run that led to the second goal, and played a perfect ball to Dom Dwyer who finished his chance to score his 50th goal in MLS. Fun note, he’s the 50th player in MLS to score their 50th career goal. Salaam was also one of the few making off the ball runs for SKC. After the Galaxy opened the scoring in the seventh minute, the basically parked the bus. Sporting were pushing hard for the equalizer, but many players were stagnant with their movement. His off the ball runs in the right channel provided some needed creativity going forward.
Jacob Peterson’s goal in the 50th minute was his fifth in the last five Sporting KC home matches. He continues to pile onto his career year, and Peter Vermes was happy to praise him in the postgame press conference.
“He’s been great. He’s finding his places on the field…one thing about Jake is he’s probably the best guy on our team about movement off the ball…guys are finding him now with his movement. Yeah, he’s been clinical, been big time for us.”
Vermes was right, as he seemed to be the only attacking player making the right runs today. His goal came off a late run to the back-post. His header down next to the feet of Brian Rowe was too powerful to stop. He definitely could’ve had two more today too, but his headers were just to high.
On paper, it doesn’t look too bad for SKC. They took 21 Shots, had possession 62.1% of the time, and completed 547 or 85% of their passes. However, they only had three shots on target. Their play within the final third was nice, but just lacked the final quality that it needed. Part of that was the lack of movement off the ball. As mentioned before, Vermes eluded to Peterson’s work off the ball in his post game praise of him. You can’t help but wonder if more players had that in the final third, if SKC would’ve completely blown out the Galaxy. Dwyer seemed disconnected with the service to him, often making the wrong run.
Jimmy Medranda had a good first half, as a defensive presence. In the second half, he just got run ragged and couldn’t keep up anymore. He also failed to pick up Landon’s run inside on the equalizing goal. This string of events led to his substitution when Sporting needed to put on another attacker. Vermes talked about how tired he was in the postmatch press conference as well.
“…He was tired. We probably should’ve subbed him even earlier than that. I don’t know why he was so tired, but you could tell he was just tired. He was late to his challenges, and things like that, it was just…we needed to make a change. It wasn’t one I wanted to make, ‘cause the last thing I want to do is move a defender, I want to put on an attacker if any thing else ”
Medranda also had troubles with his service into the area. In the first half he had about four or five balls that he either airmailed or picked the pass contrary to the run his target was making. Medranda did do a lot of work recovering the ball, but the types of mistakes he was making should be chalked up to fatigue. According to Vermes, rather unexplainable fatigue.
The Playoff Picture
After winning six straight home matches, Sporting KC has dropped four points from a winning position in the last two matches. With a big matchup with San Jose looming next weekend, and San Jose possessing two games in hand, Sporting’s results continue to have “must-win” type pressure attached. Sporting KC have lost their last three matches against San Jose, being outscored nine to zero. With Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers picking up three points this weekend, this weeks match in San Jose becomes even more crucial. Here’s a look at the current standings for the final two spots in the Western Conference Playoffs: