Well that was certainly an exciting match. At least, it was for Sporting KC.
Sporting defeated Chivas USA 4-0 and the match was as lopsided as the score shows. Sporting KC out possessed Chivas by more than 20%, dominated their 3-4-3 with excellent wing play and finished when they needed to.
Here's five talking points from the match.
1) The wing play was excellent
Jacob Peterson and Graham Zusi seemed to be toying with the Chivas back line all afternoon long. The 3-man defense was no match for the superb play from the Sporting wingers. The put chance after chance after chance into areas that Claudio Bieler and others were able to capitalize on. I'd like to see this same front line against Seattle and Houston to see their success against a stronger defense.
2) Sporting can win without half of it's starting back line
From one back line to another, Sporting KC's played another excellent match. The only thing different was that their reigning MLS defender of the year Matt Besler and other superb fullback Chance Myers. Mechack Jerome and Ike Opara filled in very nicely for the resting defenders. The Sporting KC back line should have no problem with depth like this when they enter the early rounds of the US Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League.
3) Claudio Bieler could be an early case for team MVP...
For the past two years Jimmy Nielsen has owned the team's most valuable player award. However the play of Claudio Bieler in the center forward spot may give Nielsen a run for his money. Bieler can do things in the box that Sporting has been sorely missing for the past couple of years. What he did to Dan Kennedy in his first was something I expect Jamaal Charles to do to opposing linebackers, not a forward against a keeper. Bieler is, so far, an excellent signing by Sporting Kansas City. He's tied for the league lead in goals and is on pace for 20+ goals. Not bad.
4) ...But there's only one Jimmy Nielsen
Jimmy Nielsen put in another cleansheet, something Sporting fans have grown accustomed to. However this match was his 38th cleansheet with Sporting KC, breaking the club record set by Tony Meola. Another cool stat is that he is the 13th MLS keeper to get 38 shutouts, but he is the quickest to do so in only 104 matches. At 35 years old, the White Puma is still going strong and will most certainly keep adding to his record this season.
5) A good Royals summer could affect Sporting KC
Today the Cauldron was as loud as ever. The atmosphere was great as always and fear was struck into the heart of the opponents at the thought of the Blue Hell. But those other seats seemed to have more empty spaces than usual. Maybe it was the overcast skies, the fact that the match was on a Sunday afternoon, or maybe it was the first place Kansas City Royals were playing across town. Sporting KC has never had to compete with a winning team in the city and, even though it's way too early to call the Royals an official winning team, the steps are being made to get there. It will be interesting to see how Sporting KC does when there's an actual contender at Kauffman Stadium.