I had anticipated overreactions ending after the preseason. After all, preseason is just that. It doesn’t really matter and sometimes players over perform or under perform because of that. But with Sporting Kansas City falling in their home opener to New York City FC, it seems like we should freak out a little bit before we bother to remember there are 33 more games.
Sporting KC won’t Score any goals
If we are going to overreact we might as well go nuts. SKC once against out shot their opponent (18 to 11) but couldn’t find the back of the net. Part of the problem is only three of Sporting’s shots were on goal (NYC had five). Eight of Sporting’s shots were blocked (compared to two for New York).
Rubio is still Ice Cold
Down the stretch of 2017, Diego Rubio went four straight games without a goal when the team needed him most (including playoffs). In 2018 there was talk of him not even being the center forward anymore, but Khiry Shelton’s injury from the last preseason game proved too much to overcome as he wasn’t even in the 18.
Rubio was so invisible tonight that he only attempted seven passes and only completed five of them. He took zero shots. ZERO! It is hard to score when you don’t even kick the ball in the general direction of the net. Maybe it’s the lack of minutes with his new teammates to form chemistry or the teammates themselves, but something was off. Johnny Russell made multiple good runs but had no one to deliver balls to, which at least in some way has to be the fault of the guy who is supposed to be in the box finishing chances.
Salloi Looked Very Good
This may be a bit of an overstatement since no goals were found but he only had 28 minutes and he was far more dynamic than Rubio. And he was playing center forward, where we’ve only see him play when he was temporarily switching spots with a player before returning to the wing.
Salloi got off two shots, appeared to draw a PK and completed every single one of his passes. I’m very high on him this year and he showed great energy off the bench and showed he may very well deserve to start (as I’ve been saying all offseason).
SKC May Never get a PK call
Last season it was pretty deep into the year before Sporting KC drew a penalty kick. This year, it appeared to happen in the first game of the season. Maxime Chanot brought down Daniel Salloi in the box. Salloi pretty clearly takes a touch with his left foot before Chanot gets there and Chanot may have gotten the ball (you be the judge).
VAR denies Sporting KC a late penalty and a chance to get back in the game.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 5, 2018
Agree with the call? #SKCvNYC pic.twitter.com/wscbtCMern
Regardless, Mark Geiger looked at it for about two seconds before changing the call. I’m not sure if that meets the definition of a “clear and obvious error.” If this was the NFL, the ruling on the field stands (and the review would have taken five minutes). Not in MLS though.
Croizet is not a Starter... or a Winger
Yohan Croizet made his MLS debut and it’s one he’d like to forget. He was subbed off for Gerso in the 57th minute, who probably should have been starting based on how much he opened up the game (or at least Salloi should have). On multiple occasions Croizet dribbled straight out of bounds. He simply looked lost on the wing and couldn’t stop himself from drifting inside. When inside, he did have one nearly spectacular moment.
The best chance of the 1st half for #SportingKC came in the 29th minute. Felipe Gutiérrez chipped a terrific ball over the #NYCFC defense to Yohan Croizet, whose acrobatic effort went wide. Gutiérrez is playing very well so far. #SKC #SKCvNYC #MLS #MLSisBack pic.twitter.com/4SrIJHFdWk— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 5, 2018
The ball from Felipe was amazing and Croizet almost did something spectacular with it. That said, if Croizet starts again, it should be in the midfield with Roger Espinoza going to the bench. Since Vermes will probably not rest Roger, Croizet is at best going to be a sub for whatever midfielder runs out of gas first.
Felipe had Quite the Debut
Speaking of Felipe Gutierrez, he had quite the MLS debut. Not amazing, but very good. He made mistakes, no doubt, but his free kicks were very nice, his attacking passes were good and he showed a good motor. At times he would stand there too casually when the ball was coming his way and either he would lose the ball or nearly do so. But those things will be fixed. His touch looks very good and despite PV himself saying he’s a #8, he looked capable of being a #10.
Lobato... so good and so bad
Cristian Lobato had a night he probably won’t forget. He made one of the best recovery runs you’ll ever see. New York were essentially three on one against Tim Melia but somehow Lobato had the jets to make it all the way back and cause David Villa to miss.
Lobato with a huge recovery run to break up a 2 on 0. pic.twitter.com/O9izjmhJBu— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) March 5, 2018
But on both of the NYCFC goals, he appeared to be out of position or simply unaware of where the offensive player was. I’m not saying Seth Sinovic would have stopped one or both of those chances, but it seems more likely he would have had better positioning. Then again, he would have never made that recovery run.
Vermes May Actually Use Subs
It could just be because the team was losing and needed a spark, but Peter Vermes used all three subs against New York City. The first one came in the 57th minute. The last one in the 73rd. It wasn’t uncommon last year to see the first sub with 10 minutes or less to go (if you saw a sub at all). While the results of the game aren’t to fans liking, this is a good sign. There is much better depth on the team and hopefully PV will continue to use it.
Salloi and Gerso came on and looked like guys trying to win starting jobs. They may very well have after the spark they provided. Even if they didn’t, they proved they should be brought into games when a spark is needed.
Zusi was not himself
He missed on quite a few passes. He was out of position a bit on defense. And that play with him and Felipe that led to Lobato having to make the run of his life... I’m not sure what to say about that. All said, Zusi has earned a pass. He was working with Croizet and they’ve had limited minutes together with Zusi missing much of the preseason. Yohan probably was not where he was supposed to be, so let’s blame that guy.
Let’s just stop at nine things and remember it was only one game. Sporting get a chance to redeem themselves against the Chicago Fire next weekend.