Editorial (July 4, 2019) — Kansas City temperatures may be souring into the 90s this time of year, but Sporting Kansas City has a massive snowball problem it can’t get rid of.
Following Wednesday night’s 5-1 thrashing by the hands of Los Angeles FC at Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting KC have won just two of its last 10 games. This span includes heavy defeats to LAFC and Minnesota United, as well as a plethora of last minute goals conceded. It’s the kind of streak that’ll get any team down in the dumps.
“It’s a difficult moment, times like this we can’t shy away and we have to own up to how we’re playing right now,” Matt Besler, Sporting KC captain, said. “I admit the fact that it’s up to our standard and it’s not good enough and the only way to correct it is to stick together and find our way out of it.”
Wednesday night’s game was an epitome of how that Sporting’s season has gone so far. They start strong and dominate the game, give up an oftentimes undeserved goal and then collapse under the pressure.
Against LAFC, Sporting dominated the first half hour before Christian Ramirez’s opener. However, following the goal, Sporting opened up at the back in order to grab an equalizer, allowing the clinic LAFC front three to strike.
“Again, it’s the same story,” Besler said. “We’re climbing up hill and that forces us to go out into the second half and try and make the game and they score another one.”
“And then it’s an either bigger uphill battle and it’s a snowball effect in where we start forcing balls and we start trying to play having to make things happen and it’s a dangerous game,” he finished.
— Sporting KC (@SportingKC) July 4, 2019
However, this can’t all be blamed on just the defense. Sporting have seen less than efficient play from their front three, with arguably the most impactful player, Yohan Croizet, playing a bit part off the bench.
Gerso has been a positive influence since returning from his injury. However, Krisztian Nemeth continues to prove ineffective in the middle of the front three, while Daniel Salloi couldn’t buy a goal. The Hungarian pair linked up well on Wednesday but the final product was there. Salloi couldn’t even score a penalty, sending a weak shot down the middle of the goal.
Sporting rattled off 21 shots on Wednesday compared to LAFC’s 11, but failed to capitalize on the big chances.
“In a game where we actually played really well tonight, more like we can, we had way, way too many chances not to score goals,” Peter Vermes said. “Difference is, they finished their chances every time and we can’t blame anyone.”
It gets worse for Sporting KC. According to Opta analytics, Sporting KC had 3.67 expected goals to LAFC’s 2.12.
“It’s even more frustrating, because if you look at the advanced stats they’re in our favor but the result is not, then there’s something wrong,” Besler said. “The game is about scoring goals and not giving away goals, and right now we’re not good at either. Stats are stats but the only important stat is the score.”
Sporting KC take on the Chicago Fire on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with hopes of using that fire literally to melt the quickly building snowball.