Kansas City 1-0 Chicago

Sporting Kansas City  1-0  Chicago Fire

SKC CHI

Not the best soccer of all times, but still a lot of effort, and a well-deserved win for hosts Kansas City.

 

May 5, 2015

The first thing that comes to mind is the quality of Sporting-Park Stadium.  A state-of-the-art stadium, 18,467 capacity for soccer, “dramatic canopy” that covers all seats, 5 different club levels – the works.  And, with a sold-out crowd for the second time in a row, this is really starting to feel like English Premier League.  Well, still not the 76,000 capacity of Manchester United’s Old Trafford, but you get the idea…this is very impressive for the MLS, and feels like a step at the right direction.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Sporting KC

Image Source: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Moving on from real estate, and back to soccer, we are looking at Sporting Kansas City with only 2 wins in the a last 8 games, ranked 7 at the Western Conference, and Chicago Fire who are ranked 6 in the Eastern Conference, and can go up to 4th if they win this game.  But easier said than done: this will be the first win for Chicago at Kansas since 2012…

For the first 10 minutes, as seems in every MLS game I have been watching lately, both teams seem to be warming up and finding their rhythm, not really noticing the game is already in regulation.

Dom Dwyer, the English player, a product of Norwich City Academy is eager to get on the ball and prove himself, and it shows from the first 2 minutes.  Dwyer has a great attitude, chases every ball, and seems to be on a mission to become one of the MLS top scorers for the season.  Probably Dom’s aspirations were also mentioned in Chicago’s pre-game briefs, as he is not really able to move without having a Fire player on his back.

Hungarian Krisztian Nemeth also seems to be settling well in MLS, and having a good season so far.  He seems to be restricted still to his left-field position, hopefully he will soon be given more leeway to roam around the field and find positions.

From the first 10 minutes of the game, it seems as if Kansas will be capable to create opportunities and be an attacking danger to Chicago.

Chicago in turn, will need to create a counter offence, probably by getting David Accam into the game and make the team adjust more to his rhythm.  Harrison Shipp is a very diligent player, but does not have Accam’s speed and pace.  Shaun Maloney needs to be wise enough wise enough to run the ball to Accam on the left and enable Shipp to run freely with Guly, so both can position themselves upfront.

Kansas City are applying pressure and creating half-changes, but are still making poor decisions that prevent them from finishing and capitalizing on opportunities.  One example of many that will still appear in this game is Roger Espinoza’s strike (16’) for an unreasonable distance towards the goal, to be denied by capable Johnson.

And speaking of capable goalkeepers, this is the first match for Kansas goalkeeper Tim Melia as a starter for Sporting KC.  The last time Melia started was exactly a year ago, on May 3rd, 2014 with Chivas USA.  Aside from giving Kansas to the clean sheet is has been waiting to get for a while, Melia didn’t only do it by playing safe.  He actually took a very calculated risks and went out towards the ball (18’) several times during the match.

Graham Zusi is also contributing to Kansas City’s attack, with a few good shots (21’) although off target.

Sporting Kansas City is getting the ball wide and deep into decent areas, but still fails to capitalize and create real opportunities.  Dom Dwyer seems frustrated, as he wants to be a top scorer again, but does not find opportunities.  It may be the 4-3-3 system that does not allow him to move fast enough and position himself behind Chicago Fire’s back 4 (25’).  The frustration continues with yet another miss by Dwyer (30’).

Half an hour into the match, and both teams seem to have hit a slump, perhaps due to the exhausting weather conditions.  Chicago don’t seem to find its form and create any significant attack.  No thanks to the Kansas defense that seems to just walk around the field, being very disorganized and sporadic.  Matt Besler, a US international that played in the world cup, is probably Sporting’s most experienced and senior player.  He must organise Kansas City’s back 4, and have them push more towards mid field, as well as block Fire attempts to get closer to the goal.

Towards the end of the first half (43’), Chicago seem to have relax a bit, and find a good rhythm.  If Chicago Fire continue at that form, and Kansas City’s back 4 don’t step up in the second half, a goal will surprise them shortly.

The second half is underway, and Krisztian Nemeth, who is an important arm in Sporting’s attack is starting to float around the field more, and find more dangerous positions, perhaps during halftime in the dressing room he was told by Kansas Coach Frank Yallop to move around and be more creative?

Another to Kansas by Seth Sinovic (49’), Kansas is starting to look interesting in this second half.  Luckily for Chicago, keeper Sean Johnson is a pair of safe hands that is saving them again (50’) and again.  But Chicago needs to regroup fast, or one of the many chances that Kansas is creating will end up in a goal soon.

Chicago crate a good tempo and are on top of the game from middle of the second half.  David Accam is not an active part in this recovery, it’s more about Shaun Maloney finding Harrison Shipp and the duo seem to be creating chances (65’).

It is not really a busy afternoon for Don Dwyer, it is a shame that a striker of such high quality is not getting utilized in Sporting’s attack.

Kansas makes the first substitution of the match (65’), bringing on Brazilian midfielder Paulo Nagamura instead of Honduras midfielder Roger Espinoza.

Chicago Fire makes a substitution of forwards (72’) and bring in Quincy Amarikwa instead of Guly.  This should give them more firepower and attacking breadth aside Accam.

GOAL!! (75’) to Kansas City by Paulo Nagamura, finishes an assist by Jalil Anibaba with a great header form the centre of the box.  Not really an expected goal, but what a great substitution that was 10 minutes earlier!!

Chicago try to retaliate, but a few good saves on the last 10 minutes of the match by Tim Melia keep Sporting’s sheet clean for the night.

As the game was coming to a close, David Accam’s frustration got the better of him, and a legitimate challenge for possession of the ball by Jalil Anibaba was answered by an unnecessary hit to the head by Accam, who deservedly received a red card and was sent off (88’).

5 minutes were added to stoppage time.

 

 

Congratulations to Sporting Kansas City for their second win this season that will not move them to 4th in the table I assume.  Not a great performance, but with many attempts, good saves and a 57% possession, it was still a deserved win.