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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas

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Sporting Kansas City falls in final match of season

Zusi goal not enough in tight, then open match.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a season-ending loss, there is plenty to build on for Sporting Kansas City. Sporting ended their 2022 season Sunday afternoon at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, with a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas. Right back Graham Zusi’s goal drew the guests level early in the second half, but even continued strong play from Kansas City was not enough for the win. The result, however, does little to tarnish their fiery 7-2-2 finish to the season.

Why this match matters

Drama for Sporting KC: Will it be Captain Johnny Russell? His pal Daniel Salloi? Or newcomer Willy Agada? We are talking the team’s golden boot winner, of course. Salloi, who leads in goal contributions with 12 (7g, 5a), trails each by one goal. Will the veteran Russell hold off his pal and the electric Agada, who has tallied his eight goals in only 11 appearances and 828 minutes?

This match is also the last chance for each Kansas City player to impress either Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes and his staff (or any other club who may be looking at him) as Sporting was eliminated from playoff contention a few weeks ago. Lastly, Sporting will look to cap off a remarkable 7-1-2 run to finish the season.

The playoff permutations for FC Dallas all center around whether they will end up hosting a home playoff match or not. A minimum 4th place finish is required to host. A loss could see FC Dallas end up as low as 5th place. A draw keeps them in 3rd place and finds them hosting a first-round matchup with the 6th place club.

Vermes’ Starting 11:

The only surprise is Kendall McIntosh gaining his second start on the season. Will this be Roger Espinoza’s last match in Sporting Blue? Andreu Fontas’? Graham Zusi’s? Time will tell.

Decisive actions

Low key

Physical play: Though not “dirty”, the match often saw feisty one-on-one battles all over the field.

Thommy no: Thommy drove a stinging shot in the 76th minute that Paes went acrobatic to save.

The Big ones

Not so quick... In the 7th minute, the Hoops jumped on top. US Mens’ National Teamer Paul Arriola finished at McIntosh’s doorstep off a headed flick of a serve from USMNT striker Jesus Ferriera, yet Arriola was found offside via VAR.

Dire deflection: Ferriera fed USMNT pool player Sebastian Lletget on the right wing in the 33rd minute on a counterattack. The midfielder’s drive deflected off Fontas and squeaked by McIntosh to give Dallas the 1-0 lead.

Taking it to heart: Vermes spoke about being more selective and patient in the final third in his halftime interview with Aly Trost-Martin. Six minutes in, Sporting moved the ball cleverly around box until a difficult cross was hit to the far post where Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes swatted the ball away. Erik Thommy latched onto the ball and played back for Salloi. The Hungarian left the pass for Zusi running behind, and the veteran hit inside the left post for the equalizer.

Midfield loss: After a Sporting giveaway 50 yards from their own goal in the middle of the field, Dallas went up 2-1. Arriola tucked away a pass from near the endline to the right of KC’s McIntosh after a feed from Alan Velasco.

Tactical focus

Although Sporting’s approach work was quick and strong, breaking through the last 30 yards was difficult as FC Dallas had numbers behind the ball. Furthermore, any cross sent into the box by Kansas City was rejected by center back Matt Hedges and company.

Telling Stat

Sporting held a 59-41% possession edge at halftime, with only one shot on goal and few good looks to show for it.

Moment of the match

The midfield giveaway that led to Dallas’ winner.

Man of the match

For Sporting Kansas City, the man was Nicolas Isimat-Mirin. Mirin again and again intercepted, cut out, rejected, or covered on defense all match.

Going forward

Sporting will now embark on what should be an eventful offseason. Click here Sporting KC and MLS 2022-23 Offseason Schedule - The Blue Testament for all the significant dates.

In for an in-depth discussion on who Kansas City should keep for 2023 or let go? Listen here Pod: In-depth discussion on the SKC year-end roster situation part 1- keepers and defenders - The Blue Testament and here Only the forwards remain. Coming soon. is your go to for news, opinions, podcasts, stories, and all things Sporting Kansas City and more.

And, your PSA, the Men’s FIFA World Cup begins in exactly six weeks.

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