A 17-year-old Busio started out of position on the left as the 5th winger in the depth chart. The team’s back up left back, Jimmy Medranda, was the starting striker. And the broadcast went silent, cutting in-and-out for the majority of the second half.
Perhaps the soccer gods just wanted to prevent Sporting Kansas City fans from having to see their team in such bad shape?
We may never know, but SKC ultimately fell to Orlando City SC by a 1-0 final.
The one and only goal was a very nice sequence from Orlando. Our old friend Uri Rosell set things up with a nifty ball through the defense. Carlos Ascues ran onto it in the box, sending the ball across with his first touch. Akindele was making the run in the perfect spot behind the defense to get there first and smash it home.
With Botond Barath injured and Andreu Fontas in the doghouse, Graham Smith got the nod at centerback. He was in the Vermes doghouse himself just last season, but has turned in a few solid performances and tonight was one of them. Smith wasn’t exceptional, although he did well in partnering with Matt Besler and keeping the back line in decent shape.
But he wasn’t the only experiment on the evening. Gianluca Busio was given the start on the left wing in the absence of Gerso, Salloi, and Croizet (who did not travel nor was he listed on the injury report). It was clear he was playing out of his normal position and he missed some connections with teammates as a result of that. Vermes pulled him off in the 59th in favor of Benny Feilhaber who shifted inside and Espinoza looked to take over duties on the wing.
The biggest surprise of the night was Medranda at striker, or something of a False-9. But right from the start it was not working. Vermes gave him until half time before bringing on Erik Hurtado.
Sporting KC improved marginally after coming out for the second half. Although it may have been difficult to tell as the broadcast was cutting in and out. For those streaming, the audio cut out with 30 minutes to play and it never returned.
The chances were few and far between as you can see from the map below showing midway through the 2nd half. They did come close to leveling the match in the 76th minute off a Roger Espinoza back heel, but Orlando City keeper Brian Rowe was able to swallow it up. Feilhaber also had two chances that were wasted as well.
And yes, those were just about the only three chances the entire match.
The home side nearly put the match away in the 89th minute but Felipe Gutierrez made a gut-busting run to clear the ball off the goal line. As frustrated as SKC fans must be at this point in the season, it was really good to see some fight left in the boys.
The final whistle blew - at least I assume it did - and Sporting KC picked up yet another disappointing loss bringing their record to 7-11-7, still eight points below the playoff line. Next up is the San Jose Earthquakes which will be another tough match at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night.