Sporting Kansas City traveled to face Toronto FC in their home opener for what would be SKC’s first game on national television for the 2017 season. First, the starting lineups for each team did take a couple of hits, mostly Benny Feilhaber missing the game with a muscle injury. Soony Saad would take Feilhaber’s spot in the lineup by moving Jimmy Medranda to the midfield and Saad out wide. The rest of the lineup, despite international duty, was unaffected.
TFC were hurt by international call ups as Jozy Altidore and Armando Cooper both started on the bench after playing in the United States versus Panama game on Tuesday.
The first opportunity of the night came in just the second minute when Dom Dwyer and Gerso Fernandes were rushing the goal but Dwyer’s cross was deflected. He gathered in the corner and it didn’t lead to a shot, but there was a sweet nutmeg.
Toronto had the next strong opportunity in the 10th minute when a cross went all the way through the box with no one getting on the end of it before the attack fizzled out.
From there Sporting started to gain a good share of the possession and when they lost the ball their high press on the back three of Toronto forced Toronto to drop their wing backs into the defense instead of pushing forward on the attack.
It should be noted it was raining really hard early in the match as well and that could have led to some of the disjointed play. Passes weren’t quite on the mark and just generally the play looked sloppy.
In the 36th minute Gerso made a series of sweet moves up the wing before finding Soony Saad making a run on goal. Saad attempted a cross (or a shot, who knows) that Clint Irwin would block. During the block Irwin really stuck his knee into the ground and would end up down clutching his knee. Ultimately he’d be subbed off for Alex Bono.
Toronto would have a really good chance as halftime approached by Osorio but he would sky the ball over the net despite being right in front of the goal.
The last good opportunity before halftime would be had from a Sporting KC set piece. The ball would bounce all around the box, deflect off of Roger Espinoza to be teed up for Saad who would ultimately blast his shot wide, failing to test the keeper.
The game would go to halftime tied 0-0. At the half Toronto had more possession (54% to 46%) but fewer shots (5 to 8) and shots on goal (0 to 2). In the interview with Fox Sports 1 Peter Vermes was pleased with the first half but it really seemed like Toronto had the best opportunities to score.
Raheem Edwards had the first chance of the second half as he got a long switch over Graham Zusi’s head. Zusi would be lucky to not be victimized as Edwards skied it over the bar. In the 49th minute Toronto had another chance that again fell to Edwards before Tim Melia made the save of a weak shot.
A great opportunity materialized a few minutes after that after Medranda intercepted a pass in the final third and put Dom Dwyer through on goal. Dwyer though would shoot straight at Bono in what was the best chance of the night up to that point.
After some minor contact outside the box Toronto would have a dangerous free kick in a good area. Sebastian Giovinco (who appeared to dive from the minor contact) would take the kick. It was close, but it rung off the top of the bar and out for a goal kick.
In the 62nd minute Toronto made their second substitute bringing on Jozy Altidore who would replace Ricketts. Shortly after that Sporting KC made their first sub of the night going defensive by bringing off Medranda and replacing him with Soni Mustivar, who is typically a defensive midfielder.
Toronto really turned up the heat and the Mustivar sub appeared to be to defend for the road point. They had several spells of possession and excitement near the box that didn’t result in any shots.
From there Sporting KC started to turn the tide and getting some good offense. In the middle of their possession Gerso was chopped down hard by Michael Bradley but the referee just played advantage. Almost immediately after Ilie Sanchez became the first player in the book for his foul. They were both yellow in my eyes, but Alan Kelly saw it only against SKC.
Right after that one of the better chances of the nights materialized as Soony Saad maneuvered around several defenders and sent Gerso through on goal only to have his shot sent over the bar.
The pace of the game really got going late. Toronto had several more strong opportunities that were blocked by Sporting KC. Not until the 79th minute due TFC finally record an actual shot on goal as Giovinco turned in the box but Melia was all over it.
The second booking of the night would go to Altidore after a series of Toronto chances and corners. Something happened off the ball for the card, but it wasn’t clear what. Shortly after Saad would be replaced by Latif Blessing for SKC’s second sub of the night. It wouldn’t take long for Blessing to get involved. He was on the receiving end of a violent foul that looked red, but somehow led to no card.
Blessing would work some magic just minutes after that and get a shot on goal that almost got spilled to Dom Dwyer for a rebound shot.
Another chance came from a corner where it looked like Sanchez almost scored without anyone touching his corner but Edwards would head it off the line.
The game wouldn’t end before Seth Sinovic picked up a yellow card for some more action off the ball. Ultimately the game would end with SKC’s third 0-0 draw of the season.
Sporting KC will return home to face the Colorado Rapids next Sunday at 6:00 PM CT.