Sporting Kansas City travelled to Washington and put in on the Seattle Sounders on the road. It was a big win by a big scoreline. Let’s get to the highlights and talk about what stood out.
That Cam Duke Goal!
First off, what a fabulous finish off a terrific ball from Graham Zusi! But what I want to talk about is the run. In the previous game against the San Jose Earthquakes, Duke made that run a bunch of times (much longer versions in fact). Wilson Harris would pull the CBs with him into the midfield and Duke would run into the space vacated, but no one passed him the ball.
Well someone noticed he was getting open. Maybe Zusi. Maybe the coaching staff. But it was the same type of run and it led to a goal. Duke’s speed is ridiculous. If he can use it to pull teams apart he has an important place in this roster. And it’s not just straight line speed, it’s that shifty, quickness he displays. It’s how he drew a league high eight fouls against San Jose.
The First Two Goals
Cleveland gave Sporting KC a bit of a gift by taking that wrong step on the Johnny Russell free kick but that finish is a freaking delight. Maybe he gets there if not for that step, but it’s no sure thing.
As for the Daniel Salloi goal, tons of credit to Gadi Kinda. He creates the initial turnover (what is Kelyn Rowe thinking?) and then continues the run up the field and gets the final layoff for Salloi to blast home. It’s Daniel’s ninth goal. Two off of Raul Ruidiaz’s league leading 11. Also, in Salloi’s stunner of a season in 2018, when he got the SKC Golden Boot, he scored 11. There are two more games to go before we even get to the midpoint of the SKC season. Wow!
This was mentioned in the match thread, but it’s worth a beat. Kasey Keller was good in the booth (the whole Seattle crew really). Late in the game when asked if it’s a back pass from Andreu Fontas to Melia, Keller responds in dismay with an exaggerated “noooo.” It wasn’t the only instance. They called the game fairly and consistently throughout.
I actually Tweeted out early in the game because one of the three, I didn’t know who at the time, kept calling Seattle “we.” It felt like we may be in for a long night listening to that, but it turns out it was injured goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who is actively on the Sounders. More than fair for him to say “we” and on the whole the announce team did a very good job. I actually like Frei’s interesting Swiss accent.
g+ GameFlow: MLS Regular Season @SoundersFC v @SportingKC on July 25, 2021. #Sounders #VamosSounders #SportingKC #VamosKC #SEAvSKC pic.twitter.com/kobhRlW9dn— GameFlow (@GameFlowxPG) July 26, 2021
- Sporting KC actually lost the expected goal (xG) battle. I was a little surprised how low percentage all the goals were. For what it’s worth, MLSsoccer.com has SKC winning this 1.2 to 1.0. Either way, Sporting dramatically outperformed their xG.
- That Tim Melia save on the Ruidiaz chip is just... there are no words. It almost makes up for his awful giveaway that led to the first goal. Sometimes you just need to boot it long. Thank goodness Tim is good for a save like that once or twice a game.
- It’s good to see Jimmy Medranda having some success. He didn’t have his best night, but he seems to be a regular as of late with 10 appearances (five starts) for 468 minutes. I wish him nothing but the best, except when he plays Sporting.
- Remi Walter made the team of the week. I thought he was solid and he looked better as a 6 than an 8. Who Scored had him as just the fourth highest rated player behind Russell, Salloi and Melia. Kerry Zavagnin was coach of the week too. With how the other midfielders are playing and Ilie Sanchez being back, I wonder if Walter is relegated to a reserve role.