In last night’s nervy game between DC United and Sporting Kansas City, a few main things jumped out at me, while some things were reaffirmed for me. The game proved some of the good and not so good aspects of the SKC team.
- Short Game: Sporting Kansas City was having very good possession controlling the ball for 57% of the game (ESPN). Sporting Kansas City’s short pass game was brilliant, allowing them to control the tempo of the game. Sporting has shown that they work under better circumstances when they can keep possession of the ball, rather than working off of the counter-attack.
- Sapong: Whether he starts or comes on as a substitute, C.J. Sapong plays well. He proved it last night as he displayed an excellent work rate during the 15 or so minutes he was on the field. He was able to cap off his performance with a headed goal from a corner kick orchestrated by Graham Zusi.
- Collin-Besler: The physical pair of Collin and Besler playing center-back solidify the defense of SKC. Collin’s physicality on free-kicks and Besler’s strength on throw-ins combines with their superb communication the two share on defensive coordination. These fitness of the players will largely be responsible for how the season plays out for Sporting’s road games, where they will be continually tested.
- Attack, attack attack: Sporting KC loves to be able to test the opposition as much as any other team, but they do it with force and technique consistently through the game. Sporting KC was able to do this with its deadly arsenal up top with Bunbury (Sapong), Convey (Peterson), and Kamara leading the way. It only makes things easier on the forwards when you have the a trio with the likes of Zusi, Espinoza and Julio Cesar behind you loaded with experience. Attacking is what Sporting does best, and that is what they need to continually do to beat teams, press them the full 90 minutes.
Not So Good
- Finishing: Yes, United’s keeper Hamid played a fantastic game last night and I can’t take that away from him but Sporting must be able to finish their chances better. After awhile, 1-0 wins are going to be tiring for the team mentally and physically when they should have been putting the game to bed long ago like it was on Saturday night.
- Defensive clearance: This one is mainly meant for Seth Sinovic. This guy is one of my favorite players on the team but he was a little off his game last night. He caused a few close calls by being a little complacent with his passing and clearances, almost resulting in United’s young Andy Najar to breakaway for a goal or two. Luckily for him though, Sporting kept the clean sheet allowing only one shot on target against Jimmy Nielsen.
- Long balls: Oh, Sporting. Please, oh please don’t be sending long balls up the field if they haven’t been working for most of the game. SKC seemed a little desperate at times last night when they would be lofting long balls up the field one after another. Keep it on the ground where you are winning possession and consistency. Save the air-balls for free-kicks. If there is one area that SKC needs to be working on this year it is long ball passing.
Otherwise, there is not much to critique about Sporting Kansas City’s first game of the season. They played extremely well from start to finish and were able to secure 3 points on the road while maintaining a clean sheet. What more can you ask for right? Sporting have already proved that they will be very hungry for the MLS Cup this year, and they are looking to rub elbows with some of the league’s best this season once again. “I (honestly) believe that we will win.” I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for my favorite team. Best of luck to Sporting to continue greatness on and off the pitch.