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And the terrible, no good, very bad things continue for Sporting Kansas City

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A second “In the box” for today. I’m feeling it!

SOCCER: OCT 27 MLS - LA Galaxy at Sporting Kansas City Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Or it just takes me a while to write sometimes… you decide.

Yes. A second “In the box” for Decision Day. Last day of the regular season for Sporting Kansas City. Hosting Real Salt Lake. First or Second or Third in the West on the line. Because you need more to look for… and hope for?

Full disclosure: I am not trying to ruin or degrade anyone… as if I could or wanted to… The title is an exaggeration… but problems need attention to solve them. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease, maybe not in SKC’s situation. I hit on some points in this article “In the box”: How Sporting KC’s midfield creates a vicious cycle - The Blue Testament – and more keep happening.

Like within the first minute of Sporting’s match at Austin FC Wednesday evening. The series ends with an Austin goal, the springboard for their eventual 3-1 victory:

The play begins when Austin’s goalkeeper switches the ball to the right wing, where Sporting’s three midfielders are flatlining. The forward pass from Tomas Pochettino to Sebastian Driussi beats all three, Driussi dekes past left back Luis Martins and drives into Kansas City territory (I cut out some frames.) before switching left where Austin has a 2 v 1 with Sporting’s right back Graham Zusi. Zusi is forced to make a decision, and makes the wrong one, dropping for the pass instead of pressuring the ball immediately.

The point is, however, that the eventual goal began with a simple bypassing of Sporting’s midfield. Chaos ensued. People tend to make more mistakes amidst chaos. Recognition of a flat midfield must improve and action must be taken. Even though it is a 60-40ish thing, we all know reading a play to be in position is more important than foot speed.

Let’s admit it, playing midfield in soccer is a very difficult task, especially as a single pivot in a 4-3-3. With a single holding/defensive midfielder, it is imperative that those around that player – Ilie in Sporting’s match at Austin FC – make proper decisions as well.

11th minute v Austin:

Here, keep an eye on Zusi in the bottom of the screen (just before the covering graphic). As Ilie cheats toward one of Austin’s passing options to advance up field, Zusi has a chance to blanket the other option. However, he chooses to run past that player and to take a man that Nicholas Isimat-Mirin already has marked. Though it frees Isimat-Mirin to, well, cover space that Andreu Fontas already has covered, Zusi’s choice allows Austin a free run up the gut. The play ends with an Austin shot rattling off Tim Melia’s left post and Sporting almost down 2-0 in the first 11 minutes.

The examples above are just samples of things that repeatedly occur on the field in Sporting’s matches. Here are a few other things that keep happening: one directly stated, the other implied.

Can Sporting please stop trying to go near post for the vast majority of their corners? I get the idea, but some variety please. Opposing sides know it is coming.

And… (Gadi Kinda’s stats are provided for a similar minutes comparison.)

Khiry Shelton Comparison A

Player Min G A Shots SOT
Player Min G A Shots SOT
Khiry Shelton 2139 3 6 25 10
Alan Pulido 1452 8 3 59 16
Gadi Kinda 2035 5 8 51 25

B

Player KP Pass % TurnOvs G per 90 A per 90
Player KP Pass % TurnOvs G per 90 A per 90
Khiry Shelton 17 78.7 98 0.13 0.25
Alan Pulido 27 86.1 59 0.5 0.19
Gadi Kinda 26 83.3 76 0.22 0.35