Orlando, Florida — On paper, there are not many winnable games left for Sporting Kansas City. But one of those games occurred on Wednesday night, as Sporting KC traveled East to take on Orlando City SC. A battle between two struggling teams, Sporting may have to wave goodbye to its playoff hopes following a drab 1-0 loss.
A 21st minute goal from Tesho Akindele was enough to see Orlando over the line, as it moved into a tie for the final playoff spot in the East.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) August 15, 2019
Sporting KC wave goodbye to its playoff streak
Sporting Kansas City had achieved eight consecutive playoff berths heading into the 2019 season. But it looks like it’s about to wave goodbye to that streak following yet another uninspiring performance against equal opposition.
With both teams fighting for a playoff spot in their respective conferences, it was a great chance for Sporting to springboard into the final stretch. But instead, a lack of killer instinct and yet more defensive lapses subdued Kansas City to yet another loss.
Tesho Akindele got the ball rolling in the first half after firing past Tim Melia from 16 yards out. Sporting’s Graham Smith was turned inside out by Carlos Ascues, who found Akindele open in the middle of the box. Once again, it was Graham Zusi who let his man escape him leading up to a goal.
Orlando sat back for much of the rest of the game, absorbing pressure but not giving up many good chances. Substitute Benny Feilhaber had the best chance of the game in the 83rd minute, but couldn’t hit the target from 10 yards out. The midfielder found open space behind the Orlando backline but his aimless shot epitomized Sporting KC’s season.
Mismatched front line
In a game that Sporting could have sneaked a win, it was a terrible time for a mismatched front line. With Daniel Salloi suspended and Krisztian Nemeth and Gerso Fernandes both injured, Peter Vermes was left with little options up top. Additionally, typical false nine Yohan Croizet has been interestingly left out of the matchday squad for a couple of weeks now with no reason apparent.
Instead, Johnny Russell featured on his typical right wing, but Jimmy Medranda made his first-ever start at striker while Gianluca Busio started on the left wing. The lack of synergy was clear, as Sporting failed to mount any sort of serious threat. Busio looked lost on the left wing while Medranda was produced little to no chances playing centrally.
Erik Hurtado subbed on for Medranda at halftime, but the forward was also unable to make any sort of impact.
Sitting eight points outside of a playoff spot, Sporting KC has just nine games to make up the difference. The positive? All nine opponents are Western Conference foes. The negative? Only one of those is against a team lower than them, with every other team either in a playoff spot or fighting for one.
A game against Houston, two against Portland and the season closer against Dallas could all be vital games for Sporting. At what point does Sporting KC wave goodbye to its playoff dreams?