Sporting Kansas City were fully aware of their struggling opposition coming into Saturday night's match at Sporting Park. The New England Revolution were coming off yet another disappointing loss, this time to Eastern Conference dweller Toronto FC. However, Peter Vermes and company were quite aware of their own disarray after dropping two consecutive conference matches. So, as the old saying goes: something had to give - and it did with Sporting KC thrashing the Revolution 3-0 in a match that featured two red cards and 31 fouls altogether. The result not only catapults "Vermes' Army" back into first place in the Eastern Conference, it raises three crucial points worth taking a look at.
1) Finally, statistical dominance results in a positive decision for Sporting KC
Sporting KC has had few matches this season where they have been outplayed statistically, and once again, Saturday evening showcased Sporting KC's dominance in the category of possession, passing and shots. But, as most fans are aware, this dominance has not always proved to yield positive results. Tonight, however, it did; so the question is raised: What gives? Simply put, Sporting KC were stringing together dozens and dozens of solid possessions, which led to high-chance shots and opportunities to score. Rather than 27 whimsical shots towards goal like last week against New York, Sporting KC produced 11 chances that tested Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth all evening. The consistent involvement of players like that of Benny Feilhaber and Claudio Bieler - both whom had been relatively quiet as of late - played a crucial role in Sporting KC's possession excellence, and will need to continue for Sporting KC if they want to take home some silverware this season.
2) Emotions and "offside hands" kept in check
Vermes' squad is an emotional one. They play with a chip on their shoulder, and there's no hiding this fact. However, it doesn't take an analyst to tell you that this team's emotions have been out of whack the last two league matches. Be it bickering at one another, towards the officials, or oneself, it's been noticeable in situations that in past years were handled quite differently. Saturday night, though, Sporting seemed to be clicking with one another. Communication was arguably the best it has been all season, especially in the fourth minute when Peterson Joseph made a fantastic transition back on defense to stop a threatening Revolution attack.
Better yet, Sporting KC's terrible case of "offside hands" seemed to be well taken care of, as the entire backline played to the whistle and only raised their hands on obvious situations where their high-line caught a Revolution attacker offside. Aurelien Collin received the most criticism for both this and his attitude after last Saturday's loss, but the frenchman played a near flawless 90 minutes defensively against the 'Revs, and we even saw him defuse a situation between striker Kei Kamara and a New England player.
3) Benny Feilhaber, Sporting KC eyeing consistency
"Yes, consistency - you want to play well week in and week out," midfielder Benny Feilhaber boldly told us after Saturday's match.
Facing his former team, Feilhaber played arguably his best match of the year, not only scoring on a vicious free kick just outside the box in the 91 minute, but also by anchoring the midfield's solid possession and passing scheme that put New England in a tough position all night. Feilhaber has provided similar instances of magic for Sporting KC throughout the year, but has failed to do it on a consistent basis - much like Sporting KC as a collective whole.
The reason for optimism, as Feilhaber pointed out to us, is that the squad is addressing their weaknesses, which of late has been the counterattack. Though New England came out and pressed early with a physical type of play, it was evident that they too were waiting for a counterattack - one that failed to really develop all night thanks to an airtight, Sporting KC defense.
If tonight's match is any indication of the Sporting Play to come, then fans should be even more excited for the march towards the Supporter's Shield and MLS Cup.
What else caught your eye?
Were there any other talking points worth bringing up from Saturday night's victory over Eastern Conference foe New England Revolution? Let us know by commenting below.