Well that was a bit of a bummer, eh? And while I never really expected to beat Cruz Azul on aggregate, it's unfortunate and honestly I think a bit unexpected that the score line turned a little embarassing. That was a bad result and I put it more or less entirely on the defense, which is something I think people can rarely say about Sporting.
If I said before that Sporting Kansas City would go into Mexico City with a 1-0 and would score an away goal, I think a lot of people would say they'd have a really good chance in advancing. 2013's best defense in MLS? One of the best road teams? Should be a really tight contest, right? Well, I don't know if Vermes couldn't field the best back line because of injury or if folks are resting for the weekend, or what, but that was a back 4 I think most of us would like to forget. Kevin Ellis, the hero of Game 1, looked lost and was beaten badly a number of times. Eric Kronberg didn't seem to have any confidence or ability to communicate and control the back line. Jerome and Gardner didn't seem on the same page. I don't know. If there's a problem a defense can have, we had it, and maybe we would be able to luck or grit out a performance like that against a mid table MLS team, but against the best offense in Liga MX, there was just no chance.
On the other side, Graham Zusi had a somewhat okay game now that I've recovered. Lots of decent balls played in, even if there was ever any real danger of some one connecting on them.
Benny Feilhaber's goal was maybe a bit flukey but it was a well placed and powered shot and a good example of what happens when our guys put a little trust in their foot, keep their shots low, and take a blast from distance every so often.
Claudio Bieler actually had a strong showing as well, drawing a bunch of fouls and putting in some good passes.
I'd say the midfield struggled somewhat, but the announcer before the game made a comment I thought was really good; namely that recently Liga MX sides, and especially Cruz Azul, almost bypass the midfield entirely and play a much more open and end to end game. I think we saw that here. We weren't really able to string together much in the middle of the field and without time to get back in shape our back line was just eaten up. And not to over generalize as every team and every league are different, but I really do feel like Liga MX squads tend to play, not conservatively per say, but exploratory during the first half of matches and really turn it on in the second half. Again, I think in the second half SKC was simply overwhelmed after maybe getting complacent with the away goal.
At any rate, here's some player ratings to muse over. Again, they're generated automatically (well, kind of) after culling Opta stats and are based (almost) entirely on game stats only. They're also geared more towards contribution than quality (so guys who were subbed out or in are generally rated lower, as they played and therefore contribute less) but overall I'd say they look reasonable.
No surprise to see Pavone as MOTM. Good showing from Benny and Zusi. Kronberg dinged some points. Everyone defending dinged some points really. What more is there to say. San Jose awaits, and they played longer and lost more heartbreakingly than we... who knows whether that bodes well or not? Mayhaps at least players on both sides can find a sympathetic ear?