Sporting KC shake San Jose Earthquakes, win 3-2

Graham Zusi
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (March 17, 2018)- Graham Zusi celebrates his first goal in a year to put Sporting KC up 2-1. MANDATORY CREDIT- Henry Hauck Jr.

Kansas City, Kan. (March 17, 2018)- Sporting KC rode a strong second half performance to a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. A goal of the week candidate from Graham Zusi gave Sporting KC the 2-1 lead in the 56th minute and they didn’t look back.

Graham Zusi hadn’t scored a goal since the 2016 decision day match against the San Jose Earthquakes. His move to right back didn’t entirely crimp his chances of scoring one in 2017, but for a name like “San Zusi,” it was a surprise he didn’t bag one. Tonight, he broke that seasons worth of scoreless games unleashing a powerful, curling effort with his weaker left foot, into the top corner.

That goal gave Sporting KC the lead back, after they coughed up their 1-0 lead in the first half half.

Ilie Sanchez started things off by converting a penalty kick in the 25th minute to score his first for the club. Less than ten minutes later, Vako got on the end of cross from Nick Lima. His initial shot bounced around and then came back to him, where he ripped the shot into the net.

Zusi’s wonder-goal put Sporting KC up 2-1, and then Felipe Gutierrez scored his third goal of the year with a well placed shot in the lower corner to make it 3-1. That goal turned out to be the winning goal, as Chris Wondolowski pulled off a ridiculous finish to make it 3-2 in the dying seconds.

Three Things I Noticed

  1. Nick Lima was the best player on the field tonight for the San Jose Earthquakes. And on the opposite side of their backline, Shea Salinas was the worst. In the few times Lima had to defend 1v1, he won his battle. But Shea Salinas got burnt time and time again throughout the game.
  2. The ‘Quakes central-midfield pairing was dropped too deep, for the most part. Providing cover for the back-line doesn’t mean playing a foot in front of them. The lone times they stepped higher up, With that much space between them and their front pressing line, Sporting KC found acres of space underneath, then exploited their fullbacks who were pushed up pretty high. San Jose never dropped a third into the midfield, virtually leaving a Sporting playmaker un-attended at all times. The possession battle shows that difference, as Sporting KC had it 61% of the time.
  3. The Sporting KC front three is incredibly fluid and dynamic. Sporting KC manager, Peter Vermes has said that this would take time for them to get things together. They’ve clicked quicker than most anticipated, and the influx of Felipe Gutierrez’s danger causes serious problems for any backline. They’ve scored 7 goals in two games with this setup, and they’ve looked like they can score even more.



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