Kansas City, Kan. – Sporting KC was on their last legs of the season, down at the half to a team that for a very large part of the season has been a better team. Up against it, they fought and clawed, and gained their ground back, and eventually pulled out a victory. Graham Smith’s first goal for the team gave Sporting KC a 2-1 lead late in the second half, giving them what felt like a surprising three points.
Sporting KC Comeback to Knock off Quakes
San Jose got the party started, as Chris Wondolowski headed home a corner kick for his tenth goal of the season. Wondo has made his career on unmarked goals like that, ghosting through traffic to find the space and head home. For most of the first half, it looked like it was going to go their way.
San Jose unleashed 15 shots on target in the first half, a record for an opponent in one half against Sporting KC (since 2010). They out possessed, out-passed, “out-everything-ed” Sporting KC in that first half. Things changed quickly in the second half.
Sporting Came out swinging in the second half and almost equalized immediately. The flow of the game started going their way and within five minutes of the restart, Benny Feilhaber got the equalizer.
“All I know is somehow I kicked it with my left foot and it went in the goal, and you know that doesn’t happen very often,” said a jovial Benny Feilhaber after the match.
Johnny Russell sent a ball to the back post and Jimmy Medranda’s chest trap bounced perfectly into the path of the on-running Feilhaber. He took it the first time with his weaker left and blasted it past Daniel Vega to equalize.
— Sporting KC (@SportingKC) August 18, 2019
In the 75th minute, Johnny Russell got taken down right on the edge of the penalty area. His left-footed blast almost went into the top corner, but it caromed off the post and across the face of goal where Graham Smith poked it home to get the winner.
Sporting held on for dear life and kept San Jose’s comeback chances to a minimum thanks to some expert defending down the stretch. The win takes Sporting KC to 31 points and keeps them seven points out of the playoff spot. While they have plenty of work to do, it still keeps them afloat in the playoff race.
One: Sporting did some funkier things to try and quell what San Jose was going to bring to the match. Their man-marking system is difficult to face. But Sporting was able to make some successful dribbles to open up and create space. While they didn’t directly lead to some of the goals, it was enough to keep San Jose on their heels in the second half.
Two: Sporting conceded the possession battle for what felt like a rare game. They also had, less passes, less possession and even fewer duels won. However, they plugged up spaces for San Jose to move the ball, and then pressed them relentlessly when they moved the ball back to Vega. There’s more to how they beat San Jose and their funky system, but you’ll have to wait for a follow-up piece to see how.
Three: Chris Wondolowski did what he always does: gets wide open and smashes a header home on the set-piece. It’s his 10th goal of the season, making him the first player in MLS history to get 10 goals in 10 straight seasons. The level of consistency is what makes him the best goal-scorer in MLS. The consistency and the brain in getting open and finding those spaces.