It sits on Southwest Boulevard, southwest from the Crossroads District and Sporting Kansas City’s downtown offices. The area is mostly industrious, but, then, as one travels a bit further… Boom. The iconic red building bursts into view. Of course, it is always surrounded by its patrons’ cars. Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen is a Kansas City landmark.
As you step inside, the high energy washes over you, invigorating your soul with the possibilities of the day or evening. Your first action (after putting in your name for a table) should be wading your way to the bar. They call it Liquid Attitude. Order the famous margarita, find a spot on the patio, and let the fun begin.
Sporting Kansas City center back Ilie has some fun with Chris Wondolowski there in the 83rd minute at San Jose. “Got me pressured, Wondo?” Big touch… “So long, bud.” Ilie now has time and space to get his head up and make a high percentage or penetrating pass as Sporting keeps San Jose Earthquakes at arm’s length with its 3-1 lead last Saturday night.
In soccer, the BIG touch is fluid, taking different forms, is fun, leading to new possibilities, and is anticipation, putting a buzz in the crowd. It is not water; it is tequila. The BIG touch is liquid attitude.
But beware. The BIG touch can get you too. Think you have an opposing player trapped?
Sporting’s Ilie and Andreu Fontas had Austin FC’s Jon Gallagher in a vice as he was about to receive a pass just into Kansas City’s half back on May 9th at Children’s Mercy Park. Gallagher’s big touch into space towards the touchline evaded the pressure and set him free to spark an Austin counter.
Not only does the BIG touch often create time and space, it can lead to funky trickery (Women should get the reference…).
Sporting’s Gadi Kinda dupes his defender with that big touch and turn in the 76th minute at Houston Dynamo on May 12. Kinda shows that the BIG touch is about three things: being in control, shifting momentum, and the ball being faster. In other words, I have the ball (or a clear path to it), I know what I’m going to do with it, and you can’t keep up. Sound like any movement on the ball? Yes. But the BIG touch gains bigger advantages when used alone or in combination with another move. Funky trickery.
Like the internal combustible engine, the BIG touch has an impact on everyday play. But its impact grows significantly when it is weaponized.
Johnny Russell is one of Kansas City’s trickiest players. In the 27th minute of the match with Austin FC, Russell holds the ball on the right wing, just in front and wide of Austin’s box. He teases marker Cecilio Dominquez with left-footed dribbles, then big touches right, creating separation for getting to the end line for a cross. The BIG touch worked in combination, but it also set up defenders for the next time Russell attacks. His mark will be wary of the BIG touch because is it what enabled Russell to go for the kill – the cross for a goal or the path to a goal. Russell will have him right where he wants him.
Khiry Shelton weaponized the BIG touch in a similar fashion – but in combination with a change of pace – against Houston in the 66th minute.
The BIG touch is a strong move, strong like Ponak’s Liquid Attitude. However, it creates its biggest buzz when it eliminates defenders.
In the 75th minute against San Jose, Sporting striker Alan Pulido is on the right wing by the touchline. Prior to the gif below, Pulido has cut inside to see the interior field and to force defender Oswaldo Alanis to rotate his hips. Yet Pulido has not eliminated Alanis’s threat to strip or intercept. The BIG touch does that.
Pulido’s big touch puts his body across Alanis’s and eliminates his threat. Unfortunately, Pulido is a bit indecisive, allowing Alanis to recover. Fortunately, Alanis pokes the ball right to Daniel Salloi who scores Kansas City’s third goal.
A more dramatic example, but not quite as fun for Sporting Kansas City fans, came in the only goal at Houston.
Maximiliano Urruti’s big touch puts his body across the defending Fontas, so Kansas City’s Fontas can’t defend.
The BIG touch is fluid, fun, and buzzworthy. It’s attitude is like wagging a finger at the opposition. “Uh, uh, uh… not this time.”
Space. Funky trickery. The set up. Separation. Elimination.
Look for the BIG touch in coming Sporting Kansas City matches and give Ponak’s “Liquid Attitude” a try.