For the second time in as many matches, Sporting Kansas City gained a second-half man advantage, but couldn't find a winning goal against a shorthanded opponent.
On the other hand, Sporting – with one costly exception – shut down the LA Galaxy's potent attack, which had scored nine goals in the two matches leading up to Sunday night's 1-1 draw at Children's Mercy Park.
Manager Peter Vermes chose to highlight the positives – which also included Brad Davis' curling strike for a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute – in his postmatch news conference. Nor was he concerned about Sporting's inability to score after Galaxy right back Ashley Cole drew two quick yellow cards in the 69th and 70th minutes. KC took 17 shots, but could direct only one on target, and have scored just four goals during their ongoing five-game winless skid.
“Whenever you’re a man up, the team winds up just really bunkering down and in their mentality, they become galvanized,” Vermes said. “They become a wall. And a lot of times, I’d rather play 11-v-11, because it ends up being a very difficult proposition to break them down, and it’s hard to get anything through there.
“We had great movement in and around the box, and the chances were there. We didn’t give them anything, but at the end of the day, we didn’t score. But you can’t take away how well we played today. I think we’re doing more than enough to get something.”
Center back and captain Matt Besler took the same tack.
“Overall, I think we can walk away really happy with the way that we played,” Besler told reporters. “Defensively, we knew we were going to come in and high press and take a high line. I think there were 10 balls that popped out and were potential counterattack balls. We probably dealt with nine of them. The one ball that we didn't deal with, they scored a goal on.
“That's the way it goes sometimes, and you have to move on.”
“I think 'frustrating' is the word to describe the fact that we didn't get three points,” he said, “but if you look at our last three games, it is something to build on. I think we played really well, with good intensity and a good attitude going in.”
Sporting fielded a veteran-heavy lineup that saw winger Graham Zusi take on most of the duties of a right back, though he was listed as a midfielder in a 3-4-3 formation. All three of Kansas City's top center backs started the match, but with Nuno Coelho in the defensive midfield slot ahead of Besler and Ike Opara.
“One of the things about LA is they’re a very experienced, older, veteran type of team, and I wanted to make sure we matched that on the field,” Vermes said. “I also think it was important for us to get the right people on the ball and in positions where we thought we would have the ball. And I think we were good from that perspective.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.