It was Sporting Kansas City’s home opener. It was a match that saw eight yellow cards. It was a match that saw no goals. It was even a bit cold out. Ultimately, it was a match that saw Sporting put in a solid defensive effort, look dangerous at times going forward, but stalling to get quality chances on frame in the final third. In short, it was a match you’ve likely already seen.
A few things of note.
Sporting enjoyed over two thirds of the possession (68%) and completed 85% of their passes, with Matt Besler connecting on 87% of his 103 from the back and Ike Opara completing 91% of his 77. Ilie Sanchez also hit 100 passes, with an 84% success rate. In fact, the only person who really looked poor distributing the ball was the guy you’d least expect: Benny Feilhaber, who connected on “only” 75% of his 71 pass attempts. It should, of course, be noted, that Benny often tries (and succeeds) in dropping that inch perfect through ball, so no real urgent concern coming from me, other than giving the ball away means having to win it back quickly.
Latif Blessing was welcomed to MLS life by drawing four fouls in his 24 minutes (two of which were deemed yellow worthy). Extrapolating out, he’ll be drawing 10+ fouls and five or six yellows every game. Wait and see...
Dom Dwyer registered five shots, with only one on target. Overall, Sporting attempted 14 shots, but made FC Dallas work for just two of them. Conversely, Tim Melia made four saves, keeping Sporting from dropping a home result despite being the better side.
Speaking of being the better side, let’s look at some numbers. Once again, tabulated player ratings are here, largely formulaic with minimal human involvement.
Basically, I cull Opta stats and weight them accordingly to the scores that the MLS Fantasy Game weights them to, find the average player score, make a small adjustment for playing time, and then compare each player to the average player based on the standard deviation of the player score data set. If you’re into stats, they’re basically derived from Z-scores, which are derived from weighted stats, as provided by Opta. Rarely I’ll intervene and nudge a number here or there, but in general I like to keep them as they are, as sometimes a peek under the hood reveals a player doing (or not doing) something that’s of importance.
That said, I’ll offer them no defense and suffer all ill will, although I will say that, in general, I agree with them. High marks for the defense on both sides, struggles for the forwards, Sporting overall the better team.
So, overall, no goals is a bit frustrating, and drawing at home was a bane last year, but Sporting have looked solid in both games, and once the balls start hitting the back of the net, results are sure to follow.