Sporting Kansas City travelled to California to take on the third place LA Galaxy in the final match before the international break. They did a nice smash and grab and stole three points off Los Angeles and left the weekend in first place in the Western Conference.
Go, Johnny, Go!
Johnny Russell finally got off the schneid and just in time! He scored his first goal since September 23, 2020, against Orlando City. That was 21 games without a goal for one of Sporting KC’s highest paid players. If he can really get going and join Daniel Salloi and Alan Pulido, who are two of the top scorers in the league, this offense will be a thing all clubs fear. Sporting Kansas City lead the league in goals and this will only aid in the process of adding to that lead.
Khiry Shelton Strikes Back
When I watch SKC play, I have am sometimes frustrated with the play of Khiry Shelton. I read our match thread (I couldn’t catch this game live due a family engagement for the holiday) and saw lots of Khiry hate in their post-game. However, I thought he actually played pretty well. It wasn’t perfect but his touch is getting so much better year-over-year and I thought he made a lot of good plays on and off the ball. He worked hard and caused a few turnovers and the icing on the cake was the late goal.
Does the attack sometimes come to him to die? Sure. But that happens to all attacking players at times (even if Khiry maybe a bit more). When Pulido or Salloi miss, you know another chance is around the corner. It doesn’t seem Khiry gets that same grace. I’m the first to rag on him at times, so maybe I’ve fueled that fire, but I thought he was good Sunday for the most part.
I will concede he looked really tired at times and was standing around catching his breathe a fair amount. This is probably a sacrifice of not playing consistent minutes as a spot-starter/substitute.
Alex Chilowicz Was Hot Garbage
I try to defend referees when they are fair but inconsistency is one of my biggest pet peeves. On Sunday it often felt like the lightest of calls would go against Kansas City and for LA. Salloi rightly got a yellow card for a shove in the back of Samuel Grandsir early in the match, but late when the exact same thing happened to Khiry Shelton it went uncalled. But that’s minor compared to my biggest complaints.
Chilowicz endangered the safety of several SKC players with his ineffective officiating. He allowed a vicious tackle from behind by Jorge Villafana to receive just a yellow. A red could most definitely be given as the tackle was late, from behind and no where near getting the ball. Those tackles injure. Add to that the fact that Villafana went to ground late in the match and whiffed on a ball and took out Ilie Sanchez and received not even a foul (when that’s clearly a second yellow and a sending off) and it compounds the issue.
I also thought he did a bad job of managing rough play in general. Julian Araujo had several fouls, many of them somewhat rough, and he was never cautioned in the whole game. At least his poor officiating didn’t hurt KC in the end. Both literally and on the scoreline.
- Not having to face Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez was a nice surprise. It feels fair since Sporting were without Pulido and Gadi Kinda that LA would be without Chicharito and a few of their other Mexican Internationals.
- Victor Vazquez was dangerous all night. He delivered some really nice balls that better finishers (Hernandez for example) probably put home. Despite his age (34), he was a force in the midfield. If his finishing was as good as his service, LA probably wins.
- Tim Melia was delightful on Sunday. He made seven saves and kept SKC in the game all night until they could finally get a lucky bounce to go their way. Bond had a fantastic save himself when he denied that lovely flick header from Roger Espinoza that went off Bond, then Fontas and the post before going out of the box. For the record, Gianluca Busio had the delivery on that set piece opportunity.
- Felipe Hernandez had a really strong night. I thought he bossed the first 15-20 minutes of the game and he also drew several fouls while causing LA fits. Ultimately he is involved in the turnover that leads to the Russell goal to top things off. If he hadn’t been slipping and sliding all over the field, I can only imagine he makes an even bigger impact.