Despite missing out on three points due mostly to a moment of poor defending in the first half, Kansas City still hold a two point lead over the New York Red Bulls for first place in the Eastern Conference, as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw at Livestrong Sporting Park Sunday night.
Kei Kamara put Sporting Kansas City in front in the 4th minute after Teal Bunbury was able to flick the ball over Red Bull goalkeeper, Bill Gaudette, allowing for Kamara to leap above two New York defenders and head the ball into an open goal.
It was an impressive start for Kansas City, who were very much the aggressors for much of the game, and it appeared that, perhaps, Sporting KC were going to put New York away early.
And they may very well have, if not for the aforementioned gaff in the 28th minute, as Kansas City did a rather poor job of defending a New York set piece. Sebastien Le Toux's free kick found Kamara in the box. Kamara appeared to attempt to clear the ball away from goal, but instead directed the ball past Sporting goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen.
Despite Sporting KC dominating much of the game, and dominating the statistics (it appears this is somewhat of a reoccurring theme, doesn't it? Seriously, check the stats out here), the Red Bulls held on to take a point from the match, which one would have to think is a very good result for New York.
The next two times these teams meet in the regular season will be at Red Bull Arena, a venue New York has yet to lose at.
Still, tonight's result isn't all bad for Sporting KC. They held their ground in the standings, and looked to be the better team for a majority of the match. However, there's simply no denying that Kansas City let three points slip away.
On to a few post-match thoughts....
- In regards to Kamara's own-goal, ultimately I feel Jimmy probably should have claimed Le Toux's free kick. Could the defending have been a lot better? Sure, but if Nielsen gets to that ball, then the own-goal never happens.
- Teal Bunbury continues to impress me. He looked lively tonight, and he set up Kamara's header in the 4th minute. It's a shame that Bunbury suffered the left knee sprain. I think Sporting KC could have probably found at least another goal if Teal was able to continue on.
- CJ Sapong doesn't appear to be in the best form at the moment. He's still out there busting his butt like always, but it looks to me as if he's really struggling to make things happen. Appears to be struggling with his touch. It's nice having a player of Sapong's quality coming off of the bench, but no one can deny that when Bunbury went off early, Sporting's offense appeared to stall. The play during the first 14 minutes was a lot different than the play we saw for much of the rest of the match.
- I hate when people complain about officials just about as much as anyone, but Hilario Gradjeda was terrible tonight. All we're asking for is some consistency with the referee's calls, and we got none of that tonight.
- Steve Brisendine hit the nail on the head with this article regarding Peter Vermes' lack of substitutions. Vermes subbed out Bunbury after his injury in the 14th minute, because he absolutely had to. After that, he utilized no substitutions for the rest of the game. Not saying it's a good for a bad thing. I just think it's interesting that Vermes appears to hate using subs, even late in matches.
- Sporting KC didn't allow the Red Bulls one shot-on-goal all game. Not one. That's an extremely impressive feat. Even more impressive is the fact the match still ended in a draw, even though Kansas City were able to score a goal.
- There's no way I'll ever believe Connor Lade is actually 5 feet 7 inches tall. He looked absolutely tiny out there tonight.
- I'm still not sold on Graham Zusi on the wing in Vermes' 4-3-3 formation. I think the team will be well served when Jacob Peterson returns, allowing Zusi to play in the midfield, where I think he is more effective.
- I've decided I don't like Dax McCarty. I admire his work rate, and he's a very good player,but something about him bugs me. I can't quite put my finger on it though.
- Add Tim Cahill to the "players I don't like" list as well.