Match Recap; Sporting Kansas City 1, San Jose Earthquakes 1

Teal Bunbury, and CJ Sapong celebrate Bunbury's goal, which came only a minute after San Jose took a 1-0 lead from a Chris Wondolowski strike. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

 

Sporting Kansas City 1, San Jose Earthquakes 1
October 1, 2011
Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Announced Attendance- 10,525
Goals- Wondolowski 85', Bunbury 86'


Lineups
Sporting Kansas City- Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Cesar, Arnaud (C), Jeferson ( Zusi 87'), Kamara (Sapong 71'), Bravo (Joseph 82'), Bunbury

San Jose Earthquakes- Busch, Burling, Hernandez, Beitashour, Morrow, Corrales (C) Baca (Gjertson 65'), Cronin, Dawkins, Stephensen (Griffin 72'), Wondolowski
Conduct Review

 Bravo  YC (wreckless tackle 23')
Stephensen YC (wreckless tackle 28')


If someone would have told me before the start of the Sporting Kansas City / San Jose match the game would end in a draw, I would have been disappointed. After all, San Jose is currently sitting eight in the MLS Western Conference, and Saturday night's match gave Sporting a chance to pull away from the rest of the pack in the East if they could pick up a win at Buck Shaw Stadium. But after Chris Wondolowski put San Jose ahead with a 85th minute strike, even a draw looked out of reach.

Enter Teal Bunbury; the 21 year old striker for Kansas City, who for the most part of Saturday's match, looked quite ineffective.  Staying true to his inconsistent performances throughout the 2011 campaign, Bunbury, who had squandered an easy chance on goal earlier in the match, found the back of the net a mere minute after Wondolowski's goal. It left San Jose fans wondering just how in the world a game that looked to be completely in San Jose's control, suddenly ended in a draw. 

Saturday night's game failed to follow the script most of us had in our minds before the match. You know; the script in which Sporting Kansas City would dominate the game, win at least 2-0, and all but cement their place atop the Eastern Conference. The way the actual game played out couldn't have been any more different.

 

San Jose dominated much of the first half, outplaying Kansas City for long stretches. As I was watching the first half of play, I kept thinking how this San Jose team was definitely better than their record would indicate. In fact, if I didn't know any better, I would have thought San Jose were the team vying for playoff position. Sporting just didn't seem to have it in the beginning. It was sloppy pass, after sloppy pass, and for the most part barring a couple of early chances, no real intent on  attempting any consistent offensive build up. 

 I wrote down in my notes that Aurelien Collin must have decided that he was going to launch every ball he got his foot on all the way down the other side of the field. It didn't matter where Collin was on the field. There was even a time where he cleared the ball out when he was near midfield. I won't speak too negatively of Aurelien. He was quite solid throughout the match, but it did become redundant watching him launch the ball as far as he could every time he touched the ball, whether there were any San Jose players around or not. 

For much of the first half, Sporting left back Seth Sinovic continually gave up acres of space on the left side of the pitch. Kansas City were beyond lucky that San Jose never figured out a way to capitalize off of Sinovic's poor positioning. 

San Jose was also able to shut down the Sporting Kansas City midfield for long stretches. Some of this may have been due to the fact that Graham Zusi started Saturday's match on the bench. It probably also had something to do with the man that replaced Zusi in the lineup; Jeferson. Let's be honest; he looked awful. I was for certain that at halftime Sporting head coach Peter Vermes would be forced to substitute Graham into the lineup. It didn't matter that Graham needed rest, Jeferson was playing too poorly to justify keeping him on the field. I must have been wrong, because Vermes didn't substitute Jeferson with Zusi until the 87th minute.

I think it's safe to say that the Jeferson Experiment is all but over in Kansas City. There's simply no room for his poor play, and his vastly overpaid wages. Sporting have other options; whether that's Espinoza when he returns from injury, or Peterson Joseph (who saw his first action in a Sporting Kansas City kit when Vermes substituted him for Omar Bravo in the 82nd minute of play). Jeferson's play in the match against San Jose should be the final nail in the Jeferson Experiment coffin. 

It wasn't until the 30th minute of play that Sporting Kansas City finally came alive, when Jeferson (speak of the devil) lobbed a nice pass over the top of the San Jose defense right into the path of Bravo. San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch came up to block a potential Bravo shot. Omar had just enough time to flick the ball over the top of Busch. It surely looked like Sporting were about to take a 1-0 lead, but San Jose defender Steven Beitashour made a great clearance right before the ball reached goal. 

One of the continuing problems I've noticed with Sporting Kansas City has been there occasional inability to defend the middle of the field. Old habits must die hard, because in the 42nd minute of play San Jose midfielder Simon Dawkins found himself with miles of space in the heart of Sporting territory. Dawkins fired a laser that just missed connecting with the goal that would have put the Quakes ahead 1-0 right before halftime. 

The second half saw Sporting with a multitude of chances. In the 58th minute Bravo just missed wide right with a shot in San Jose's box, after Jeferson whiffed on a shot of his own, and the ball was deflected right to Bravo's feet. That Bravo miss should have probably been his second goal of the night, as he also barely missed a header just over the bar in the first half from a nice Davy Arnaud pass. 

In the 61st minute Teal Bunbury squandered a wonderful chance to put Sporting ahead when he had a one on one opportunity with Busch. The left side of San Jose's goal was left wide open as Teal came in from the right side, but for some rather strange reason, Teal opted to try to squeak the ball past Busch through the narrow bit of space to the right of the San Jose goalkeeper. Busch had little trouble making the save. 

As the match reached the latter stages I had two thoughts; 1. Sporting had once again failed to capitalize on their scoring chances, and 2. I thought the Sporting defense had done a wonderful job in shutting down San Jose's Chris Wondolowski. 

Obviously, I had jumped the gun. Out of virtually nowhere, Wondolowski was able to fire a strike past Sporting Kansas city goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen in the 85th minute, putting San Jose up 1-0 with little time remaining. Just like that, Wondolowski had notched his 12th goal of the season, and it appeared that Kansas City would be leaving Buck Shaw Stadium with the worst possible result. 

It appeared as though, once again, Sporting Kansas City had squandered yet another chance to distance themselves from the rest of the Eastern Conference. 

It seemed like the San Jose celebration of the Wondolowski goal was still taking place when CJ Sapong, after a quick restart, found Teal Bunbury with a nice pass that left Bunbury with only Busch to beat. Bunbury fired a shot to the left of Busch, and the game was tied at 1-1. From zero points and a disheartening loss, to one point and a good result, in a single minute. 

I'm torn emotionally about this match. On one hand, I think most Sporting Kansas City fans, myself included, thought that the team should have been able to take home three points against a San Jose team that has struggled so much this season. On the other hand, Sporting Kansas City's heart was on full display during the Bunbury goal. I'm sure there are a number of teams that would have packed it in after Wondolowski scored so late in the game.You have to give credit to Sporting for not giving up after a demoralizing goal, and for finding a way to get some sort of a result, even if it was only one point. 

One point, although a modest gain, still brings Sporting Kansas City that much closer to the playoffs. 

Man of the Match
Simon Dawkins- It was hard to pick a man of the match in this game. I didn't think that there was one player that stood out head and shoulders above anyone else, but I did come away impressed with San Jose midfielder Simon Dawkins. I just thought he was consistently a threat, whether it was from the way he attacked the goal, or the way he continually crossed the ball into threatening positions. 

I suppose a case could be made for Bunbury, but for as good as the goal late in the game was, the way he missed his earlier chance on goal by not shooting the ball far post was just as puzzling. 
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