Over the last few weeks, Sporting Kansas City have hit a real rough stretch. They have won just a single game in their last seven attempts (1-4-2) and Johnny Russell seems like he’s doing it all by himself on offense with the last four goals for the team.
Things may be looking up as Alan Pulido returned last time out, though it’s not a sure thing he won’t be off to international duty.
Vermes: we do not have an answer on Pulido joining Mexico national team yet, still working with the federation and other organizations #SportingKC— Thad (@TheBackpost) October 2, 2020
Then I saw this chart that shows xG and actual goals for the 2020 MLS season (it appears to not be counting the MLS is Back knockout round games). Sporting KC are fifth in both categories of the 26 teams. Not bad by any means.
Via Opta, an overview of xG numbers across MLS for the 2020 regular season so far. Pretty dire for DC and Cincy, but... Atlanta is not too far ahead of them pic.twitter.com/Xd5v4H0KYT— Charles Boehm (@cboehm) September 29, 2020
So it got me to thinking, if Russell has score the last four goals and been the only player to score for Kansas City in the last three games, how long has it been since everyone else scored?
First, let’s look at who have scored goals during the games that count as MLS regular season games.
- Johnny Russell (6)
- Gadi Kinda, Khiry Shelton (4)
- Alan Pulido (3)
- Erik Hurtado (2)
- Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Gerso Fernandes, Gianluca Busio, Own Goal (1)
Last Time Scored by Player
Let’s take this most recent to furthest back to show the drought of some players.
- Russell: September 23rd versus Orlando City
- Hurtado: September 5th versus Houston Dynamo
- Shelton: September 2nd versus FC Dallas
- Busio: August 29th versus Colorado Rapids
- Kinda: August 25th versus Houston Dynamo
- Gerso: July 22nd versus Real Salt Lake
- Zusi: July 17th versus Colorado Rapids
- Pulido: July 17th versus Colorado Rapids*
- Espinoza: March 7th versus Houston Dynamo
*Pulido did also score against the Philadelphia Union but that came in a non-MLS regular season game.
What Can We Learn?
Well, of course, give up less goals and the fifth best scoring tally would be for a much better record (and seven goals in the first two games probably screws up the numbers a bit). KC show glimpses of capability on defense but they often feel like they are on the verge of giving up a goal at any moment.
As for the offense, Russell cannot do it all. Someone else has to score too. Pulido missing nearly a month of soccer didn’t help anyone. He leads the team in assists so not having him out there, even when he’s not scoring, changes the game. The team is clearly different without him on the field.
Beyond that, Kinda’s goals have dried up after his scorching start as well. Someone has to come out of the midfield and contribute, even if it’s just in assists. It’ll be interesting to see if Busio plays a more advanced role with Kinda suspended this week.
And finally, it’s hard not to wonder how good this team would be if Felipe Gutierrez hadn’t missed the whole year.