Fielding a starting XI unchanged from last week’s road draw at DC United, Sporting Kansas City also ended with an unchanged result as it reached a scoreless draw against a visiting FC Dallas outfit in the 2017 campaign’s home opener.
The first half of play was a familiar sight for most Sporting KC fans—a 45-minute period of watching the boys in blue try to break down a parked bus, as FC Dallas did what many clubs do when visiting Children’s Mercy Park and bunkered down with nine (or 10) players behind the ball for vast swaths of the first half.
SKC’s lion’s share of possession did not translate into quality chances, as evinced by the fact that a) FC Dallas had probably the two best chances of the first half, and b) the most that Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez was tested in the first 45 minutes was by a Gerso Fernandes cross, not a shot.
The two FCD chances came within a few minutes of each other midway through the first half, as first Tim Melia had to rush out to prevent a ball deflected off of Ike Opara from being buried in the Sporting Kansas City net and then a few minutes later, Tesho Akindele simply left Seth Sinovic in the dust in a sequence that ended in the ball miraculously caroming off of Melia’s left-side goalpost [Editor’s Note: Tesho was offside as I’ve shown in the tweet and freeze frame below].
The Sporks, for their part, did force a couple of saves out of Gonzalez, but only one—a bouncing, chopping shot from Gerso that Gonzalez effectively smothered—required much exertion from the young custodian.
The second half began quietly despite the insertion of Kellyn Acosta by FC Dallas manager Oscar Pareja, with no real chances on goal for either side for a long spell of gameplay despite subsequent substitutions. A mid-half weak attempt on goal from Dallas bounced straight to Melia, and later, a well-placed free kick by Kellyn Acosta was plucked nonchalantly from under the crossbar by Melia.
For their part, the Sporks rarely were able to truly threaten the FC Dallas goal until late as the visitors pulled out all the stops from what appeared to be a crash course at the Jimmy Nielsen School of Time-wasting. Then after 85 minutes, Gonzalez was forced into a punishing sequence of a couple of very difficult punches to clear away dangerous plays from right in front of his goal, and the hosts remained goalless on both the game and the season as a result.
Making his MLS and Sporting KC debut tonight was the much-anticipated Ghanian teenage attacking wunderkind Latif Blessing, who was promptly hacked down by Atiba Harris in a textbook yellow card foul as an apropos welcome to MLS and its sometimes rough-and-tumble style of play.
He suffered a second yellow-card foul before later getting an open chance on goal at the end of regulation time, but he skied his volley well over the net.
Sporting Kansas City continues its stay at home with a match next Saturday at 7:30 pm CT against the San Jose Earthquakes at Children’s Mercy Park. FC Dallas are likewise at home, first for a midweek CONCACAF Champion’s League fixture against Pachuca, and then in league play on Saturday against the New England Revolution.
Below is a summary of the goals (or lack of them) and bookings courtesy of MLSsoccer.com:
What do you think of how proceedings went? Was there a man of the match for you? Have your say in the comments.