Sporting KC wrapped a two match road trip with a 1-1 draw at D.C. United. It was a frustrating match at times (mostly due a disallowed first half goal) but still a positive result to get four points from two away matches.
Man of the Match
Matt Besler helped to lead a solid defensive effort for Sporting KC in his first match since April 27th. The central defender led all players with 16 clearances and seven aerial duels won. Besler played his first minutes of the season with Ike Opara (filling in for the suspended Aurelien Colin) and the two limited chances for D.C. United's attacking players, most notably Dwayne De Rosario.
The Opara goal that was ruled offside changed the rest of the match. If allowed, it would have put an emphasis on D.C. United to attack for the final 60 minutes and probably given Sporting KC more opportunities on counterattacks. Credit to Opara who had a major role in the 60th minute own goal (his header deflected off D.C. United player before going into the back of the net) and continues to perform well in central defense. There's no knowing how the match would have changed if the goal was allowed, but it certainly was a major turning point.
A few stats
- Graham Zusi had five key passes, no D.C. United player had more than one
- Matt Besler won 83.3% of duels, the highest of any field player (non GK) in the match
- Jacob Peterson completed 20 of 22 passes (90.9%)
- Sporting KC are unbeaten in their last six matches (5-0-1) versus D.C. United
- 12 corner kicks is a season high for Sporting KC
What's been the cause/reason for D.C. United's slow start?
"There's no one reason why this team has been so bad this year. It's really a collection of reasons. Partly in that last year's late season success was a product of to some extend overachievement and everything going their way, credit to them for it. Were they the third best team in MLS last year? Probably not. That was an issue. They rely heavily on Dwayne De Rosario, who's turning 35. They haven't gotten the production from a MLS Best XI player Chris Pontius this year so that's hurt them a lot. There's been no balance with their performances either. When the defense has played well, the attack has offered nothing. On those occasions when the defense has broken down, the offense has been ok but it's all of these little things that have gone wrong for them."
What do you expect to see on Sunday at RFK Stadium?
"My hunch is that it's going to be a tie and that D.C. will find a way to get a result. But are they good enough right now to beat a high quality opponent like Kansas City? I don't know. Can Nick DeLeon go more than 45 minutes? Can Pontius play at all after sitting out several games? There's a lot of questions out there and my hunch is that it will be a 1-1 tie."
What's been the cause for D.C. United's losing streak and is there any sense of panic with the team?
"I think it's enough of a slide that there's real concern that they don't get too far behind. There's been some subtle changes with certain people not coming back whether it's Branko Boskovic or Hamdi Salihi so it's not exactly the same team as last year. The reality is that they've just had some gaffes on defense that have been costly in this recent losing streak. They just have not found a way to really consistently threaten on offense. That's both sides of the game right there. Not much has been going well of late for them to point to. That's why they're in the position they're in right now."
What do you expect to see from Sunday's match?
"If D.C. United are going to have any success it's going to have to show discipline and focus on defense for 90 minutes. I'm not saying that means they are going to sit back. I just think that if you look at how FC Dallas' goal is scored (game-winning goal), it was on a corner kick. Showing better focus and attention to details on set pieces. Beyond that, it's hard to say what to expect because I think there are some open questions about who will be in or out of the D.C. lineup right now. There were changes last week that weren't necessarily precipitated by injury but precipitated by the need to find a better result. There's still questions about who will be in the starting 11 for D.C. United. I think that will also dictate how the game goes. I don't think that it's clear yet how the midfield will be constructed. I don't think it's clear yet who will be up top. In the state D.C. United is it, it's hard to say with any certainty what to expect. I think it's clear what needs to happen for D.C. United but it remains a lot of questions with this team right now."
Sporting KC will face Eastern Conference opponents D.C. United for the second time in as many months on Sunday afternoon. Let's take a closer look at D.C. ahead of the match.
Lewis Neal and Marcelo Saragosa are listed as out for Sunday while Chris Pontius, Carlos Ruiz, and John Thorrington are all questionable. Pontius has not played in the last three matches but could be in line to return, at least as a second half sub. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid did not play at Dallas due to a coach's decision but is expected to be available.
D.C. United are currently on a seven match losing streak (which includes SKC's 1-0 win on April 5) and only scored four goals in that stretch. The team has struggled but were projected by many to make the playoffs in 2013 and still a side with plenty of talent. MLS is a league where it's always tough to get results on the road and Sunday should be no different at RFK Stadium.
Dwayne De Rosario - One of the best attacking players in MLS who will be the main focus for the Sporting KC defense.
Perry Kitchen - A steady presence in central midfield who has started every match this season for D.C. United.
|May 8th vs Houston||May 11th at Dallas|
Sporting Kansas City will face D.C. United for the 47th time MLS (regular season) on Sunday afternoon. It's the second of three meetings between the two sides in the 2013 regular season. The first match of 2013 was on April 5th at Sporting Park in which Sporting KC won 1-0 on an 89th minute winner from Claudio Bieler.
Sporting KC have won the last five consecutive matches in the head-to-head series including handing D.C. United their only regular season home loss in 2012.
MLS regular season Head To Head
Home Matches: 13-6-5 (46 goals scored, 28 goals conceded)
Away Matches: 6-12-4 (25 goals scored, 33 goals conceded)
|Sporting KC||Stat||D.C. United|
|Claudio Bieler 6||GOALS||Lionard Pajoy 2|
|Graham Zusi 4||ASSISTS||Six players tied 1|
|Claudio Bieler 32||SHOTS||Dwayne De Rosario 21|
|Aurelien Collin 26||FOULS||Lionard Pajoy 16|
|Jimmy Nielsen 22||SAVES||Bill Hamid 25|
|Jimmy Nielsen 0.75||GAA||Bill Hamid 1.89|
|Sporting KC||D.C. United|
|Shots (on goal)||168 (49)||106 (34)|
|Fouls Committed (Suffered)||186 (172)||108 (137)|
|Duels Won (Avg)||51.5%||50.3%|
|Completed Passes (Avg)||428||399|
|Passing Accuracy (Avg)||76.1%||75.7%|
Last 10 MLS regular season matches
Sporting Kansas City will face D.C. United for the second time this season as the two teams meet on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium. What matchups and players will be crucial for each team to get a result from Sunday's match? Check out the video below to find out featuring MLSSoccer.com's Greg Lalas and Matt Doyle.
Fifteen years ago today, Digital Takawira scored one of the most impressive hat tricks in MLS history. The striker scored three goals in a nine-minute span to lead Kansas City to a 3-1 victory over the New England Revolution.
Digital stopped by Sporting Park earlier this year and reminisced on the feat, saying, "It was like boom, boom, boom!" Enjoy today's Throwback Thursday featuring his signature "Digital Crawl" celebration.
Paulo Nagamura stepped up in Sunday's match and now it's time once again for #VoteSporting.
The midfielder's goalline clearance in the second half against the Houston Dynamo has been nominated for this week's MLSSoccer.com Save of the Week. The save was in the 80th minute and prevented a Jason Johnson header from crossing the goalline.
Voting is open until Thursday evening with the winner to be announced on Friday.
You can view the full list of nominees below and submit your vote using the poll on the right or on MLSSoccer.com.
Kei Kamara's back in Kansas City and was recently on MLSSoccer.com's Extratime Radio. Kamara spoke about his time with Norwich City, Sporting KC's win at Houston, and of course his favorite restaurant, Chipotle. You can listen to the full interview below, which starts at about the 6:00 mark.
Sporting Kansas City snapped the Houston Dynamo's 36 match home unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium. It was a physical match between two sides that are expected to be battling it out in the Eastern Conference playoffs next fall.
Man of the Match
Aurelien Collin had a solid match offensively (game-winning goal) and defensively (clean sheet). The Frenchmen scored his second goal of the season and continues to be a threat on set pieces. Defensively, Collin made a very important tackle late in the match that prevented the Dynamo from having a breakaway on goal. Collin and the rest of the Sporting KC backline were tested by a tough Houston side throughout the 90 minutes and responded with a clean sheet.
Collin's header in the 73rd minute was clearly the crucial part of the match. It was a long throw-in by Seth Sinovic that Collin headed back towards goal and past the goalkeeper. The goal came at the perfect moment as Houston was beginning to gain momentum and get consistent scoring chances. It allowed Sporting KC to play a bit more cautious and put the emphasis on Houston to take chances.
A few stats
- Ike Opara led all players in clearances with 13
- Both of Collin's goals this season have come in 1-0 victories on the road (at NY & at HOU)
- In his last two matches against Houston, Seth Sinovic has a goal (second leg of 2012 playoffs) and an assist (tonight's match)
What has been the main reasons for the increased rivalry between the two sides?
"Success. Two managers that have an intense desire to win and compete. Familiarity now and past history. All of these things come into play. Of course they've competed in conference championships and playoffs. I clearly believe that this is the Dynamo's number one rivalry."
What sort of match do you expect to see on Sunday?
"That's the thing I like about Sporting Kansas City on the road. They go after teams and quite frankly most of the teams that have come into BBVA Compass Stadium have tried to open up and play against the Dynamo. Vancouver did, Colorado did to a degree, San Jose did to their detriment. I think people realize that you can't come into BBVA Compass Stadium and think you're going to sit back for an entire course of a game and let them come at you and pressure you and get out with a result. That's going to be a rare, rare luxury if it ever happens even at all this year."
"I think it's going to be an open and entertaining game."
"I think fatigue could play a part in this match. It seemed to be a highly emotional game for Sporting Kansas City against Seattle. You have to wonder if that maybe slows the pace down on a game that might have normally been a lot faster and give people a little bit more time on the ball."
What match-ups will be important for Sunday's match?
"I think there's great match-ups all over the place. It's kind of like take your pick because of quality of the players and the way the two teams play. For me, how do the Dynamo adjust to the Sporting Kansas City midfield. Who controls the middle third of the field. There's a lot of strength there with the players. And of course you got a lot of energy out wide on both teams as well."
"This could be an incredible midfield match-up here on Sunday. I think two of the best midfields in MLS are going head to head on Sunday."
What's been the key to the Dynamo's long home unbeaten streak?
"I really think it down to a few factors. One, I think they just have a lot of confidence there (at BBVA Compass Stadium). There's something to be said about having momentum and having a thought process that you're not going to lose in a certain place."
"Weather here plays a very big factor for teams who are coming from the North, even the Midwest in Kansas City. The humidity, even in those months when it's not 'hot', is still something after 60-70 minutes. It's very very tough to deal with and there's no coincidence that the Dynamo get a lot of their results (at home) with goals after the 70th minute. They're conditiioned to deal with heat. They're conditioned to deal with the humidity."
What are the expectations for the Dynamo this season?
"Supporters Shield talk doesn't really come up here much. They really do focus on the MLS Cup. Honestly, I think its weird because they've been to MLS Cup the last two years but there is a sense that this is probably their best team (in the last three seasons). Of the three years, on paper, this is the best team they've had. I really do think that for Dominic Kinnear and that group, the goal really is to win MLS Cup."
What do you expect to see from Sunday's match?
"I expect to see what we've seen the last six or seven times between these two sides, an all-out battle."
"I think personally it's going to be a game that a lot of soccer fans want to watch. It's two teams that go hard. They don't lay on the ground. They don't dive. It is really two honest teams going at it."
"I think this is going to be Houston's biggest challenge. I think Sporting Kansas City are Houston's biggest threat to end the streak (home unbeaten streak). I really do because the style of play and the condensed schedule this week. I expect to see a battle and an honest to goodness fight this weekend."