The empty feeling of starting down the offseason once more is upon Sporting Kansas City. The monotony of losing in the same exact way for the fourth straight year is also upon the city as the club faces a transfer season where overhaul might be necessary.
If you haven’t seen this movie before, here’s a brief synopsis: Sporting Kansas City started off the season well and looked like
Eastern Western Conference contenders. The season went great until the weather turned cold and they began to slip. They certainly missed Chance Meyers, Ike Opara, Nuno Coelho, Tim Melia, who was out with an injury down the stretch. The team fell from the top of the conference table and squeaked into a bottom playoff spot, meaning they hit the road for their playoff match.
In their season-ender against the
New York Red Bulls Portland Timbers Seattle Sounders Houston Dynamo, Sporting KC held their own for the majority of the match and looked like they might steal a win if they could just put the ball in the net. Alas, they were unsuccessful as they allowed a late winner and could not recover in time. The season was over. Now, they’ll have to address their goalkeeping defense depth attack in the offseason.
Sporting KC’s reoccurring nightmare played out once more on Wednesday night in Houston, falling 1-0 to the Dynamo in the Western Conference knockout round.
Both teams were down starters for this match. Houston was missing defender AJ DeLaGarza due to an ACL tear and Sporting KC was missing left back Seth Sinovic with an undisclosed injury he picked up in training. Sporting was also missing starting keeper Tim Melia, who had missed the previous three regular season matches with a hamstring strain.
The first half showed some attacking promise for Sporting KC. They outshot Houston 10-6 but only one was on target. They held 57% possession and took five corners but none were close to successful. On the other side of the pitch, Andrew Dykstra was hardly challenged at all as Houston only put one shot on target.
The Dynamo had to make an early substitute in the 41st minute due to an injury. Houston centerback Leonardo was knocked down during a set piece and could not continue, which forced the Dynamo to bring on former Sporting KC man Jalil Anibaba as a replacement.
With neither team able to put the ball in the net, they went into halftime tied at nil-nil.
At the start of the second half, Sporting KC lost another starter to injury. Gerso Fernandes, who had pulled up with a limp in the first half, had to be replaced by Daniel Salloi in the 50th minute. Fernandes was a big loss for Sporting KC as he had been a tough matchup for the Dynamo defense.
Things started to turn toward the Dynamo attack in the second half. In the 60th minute was their best opportunity to date when Cubo Torres put a header on goal but, fortunately for Sporting KC, it was right into the hands of Dykstra to keep the match scoreless.
Sporting KC still held their own, however. In the 75th minute, a Graham Zusi free kick was headed into the net by Ike Opara and, for a moment, it looked like Sporting had the lead. Unfortunately for SKC, Opara was ruled offside and the goal was disallowed.
As the second half wore on, the defenses continued to dominate the game. Both back lines made key stops and kept the other side out of the goal. So, after 94 minutes, the match was still notched at 0-0 and the game headed to 30 minutes of extra time.
It didn’t take long in extra time for the Dynamo to grab the lead. In the 94th minute, Vincente Sanchez beat Jimmy Medranda down the sideline and sent in a short cross to a wide open Alberth Elis, who put the ball away for the goal.
The Dynamo came ever so close to sealing the victory in the 103rd minute. Sanchez was alone against Dykstra on a counter attack and probably should have scored, but his shot went wide left and out of play. Sporting KC was lucky to only be down one goal going into the extra time break.
Sporting KC desperately tried to get an equalizer in the final fifteen minutes of the match but could not penetrate the Houston defense. As a cherry on top, a counterattack in the final stoppage time minute by the Dynamo led to a penalty kick when Sanchez was taken down in the box. His penalty was saved by Dysktra but, by that time, the final whistle had blown and Sporting KC’s season was over.
Houston moved on to the Western Conference semifinals, while Sporting KC will face another long offseason following their fourth straight knockout round defeat.