I remember pretty well talking to Jimmy Conrad after a match years ago at CAB after the then Wizards had just beaten... some very poor team, but just barely, and on a last minute play. I told him “You know, you guys don’t always have to make it interesting. You can just win outright sometimes”. He sort of chuckled and said something like “Yeah, that’d be nice, but we like to keep you on the edge of your seat.”
While the two game road trip against Portland and FC Dallas went decently (three points from two of the best teams in the league away isn’t shabby) and getting a home win to kick off a short burst of short rest games (Wednesday then Sunday then Saturday then Wednesday then Saturday).
Benny Feilhaber playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder can be a wonder to behold, and his first goal seemed a big exclamation mark, for both him and the team. The trio of him, Roger Espinoza, and Ilie Sanchez in the midfield looks to really be gelling.
Graham Zusi continues to look competent at right back, playing solid enough defensively and looking dangerous bombing forward on the wing.
All in all it was an excellent win against an injury wrought Real Salt Lake who still seem to be struggling to find their identity. It was another chippy affair, as SKC v RSL games tend to be, with eight combined yellow cards and RSL committing 16 fouls (SKC conversely were called for only seven fouls — and five of the yellow cards).
And finishing! Seven shots on goal in ten attempts! Three goals! Would Nick Rimando have done better? Perhaps, but maybe Sporting have finally found their shooting shoes.
Let’s check the rate-o-matic and see how player performances stacked up.
SKC v RSL Player Ratings
|Real Salt Lake||Rating|
|Real Salt Lake||Rating|
|Matt van Oekel||4.5|
|Sporting Kansas City||Rating|
High marks for Benny Feilhaber, no surprise, along with Gerso, Zusi, and the entire defensive line (again). Sporting Kansas City have allowed just three goals against all season, for a shockingly awesome 0.38 GAA. The next best teams are FC Dallas and Orlando City at 0.71. It’s hard to overstate just how solid the back line have been, and Tim Melia has been excellent this year, single handedly (in some cases literally) preserving some games.
Next up is a hot New York Red Bull team that can be quite dangerous, and after that, the first encounter with Minnesota United. Just three points out of the top spot, Sporting are starting to click and will want to take advantage of a home game and a match against a weak, though improving, Minnesota, to perhaps take over at the top of the pile.