A win. Then a draw. Then a loss. Sporting Kansas City completed the trifecta to begin the season Saturday with a 3-1 loss at Real Salt Lake on Kentucky Derby day (Horse racing Hint: It’s a gamble to bet against trainer Bob Baffert’s top horse in any big race.). And it is not exactly an order of results that builds confidence.
But there were symptoms of trouble in the win at New York Red Bulls and the home draw to Orlando City. Opponents running freely thru the midfield, wing backs inconsistent in defending, and marking issues in the box. To be real, nothing about defending in soccer is easy.
Yet, Sporting struggled in the attack at Rio Tinto Stadium as well. Stats tell part of the story: Six shots, only one on goal. Both the lowest of the three matches.
And this somewhat curious passing map (from mlssoccer.com):
The lack of connection between Ilie at the #6 and two important players: Gianluca Busio and Alan Pulido at the #10 and #9 respectively is concerning to me.
Okay. Enough intro talk. Some quick takes:
- Alan Pulido’s effort was top notch. (Manager Peter Vermes comments - relayed in @TheBackPost match recap above - were interesting: “Alan was actually excellent in the game. If I was him, I’d be incredibly frustrated because him and a few other guys wanted the ball. They wanted to play and they were trying. Again, to play at this level, you have to want the ball.”)
- I am not entirely convinced Khiry Shelton meant to pass to Pulido on the goal, despite Shelton implying he did in his post-game interview.
- Right back Jaylin Lindsey had a strong match, often outbattling Ecuadorian attacker Anderson Julio.
- ...even though Lindsey and Kaveh Rad (mostly Rad) failed to stop the third RSL goal. Rad had cover in Lindsey and should have been more aggressive.
- The introduction of four new starters: Pulido, Russell (on the left, mostly), Ilie, and Rad aided the dysfunction. Yet, it was good to get them back in the starting lineup. Reps needed.
- Was I the only one longing for the return of in-his-prime Seth Sinovic during this match?
- It was disheartening that the last 15 minutes saw more of RSL dominating than Sporting trying to claw back in the match.
The condensed match video is here.
Thoughts? Other takes? Leave yours below.