For the first time this season, Sporting KC earned a point on the road. NYCFC had scored 14 goals in their past three matches, but the SKC defense held them to a Total Team XG of less than a goal.
The classic connection of Tim Melia to Daniel Salloi nearly opened the scoring in the second minute. After the NYC defense misplayed a long ball from Melia, Salloi hit it on his first touch from just outside the box. His shot was right at Sean Johnson, but it led to a corner kick and another huge chance. Kortne Ford got a very clever head on the cross, but it missed the far par post by a couple of inches.
As always, the size of the field was a topic of discussion all week long. NYCFC is playing home matches in several stadiums this year. None of which are ideal. Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, was the venue this weekend.
Perhaps because of the small field, Peter Vermes deployed a different look for his front line. Johnny Russell moved in from the right wing to play centrally, trading places with Khiry Shelton. JFR is known for his patented runs cutting inside from the wings and this field may not be wide enough for him to work his magic.
It wasn’t until the 34th minute that NYCFC got their first real look on goal. Santiago Rodriguez took a pass from Keaton Parks into the box and looked destined to score, but his shot was saved by a pouncing Tim Melia.
The best chance of the scoreless first half came from the visitors in the 40th minute. Uri Rosell stepped up to intercept a pass in the midfield and pushed it over to Russell on the left wing. Russell sent a ball in for Daniel who’s sliding effort had Johnson beat, but it hit the post and was cleared away.
NYCFC had enjoyed 59% possession on the season going into this match. They came out for the second half looking to regain control and earn back some of that possession battle. It was fairly quiet for the first 25 minutes after the break.
In the 75th minute, Johnny found some space for a dangerous shot. The ball took a heavy deflection and it left Sean Johnson wrong-footed, but the NYC keeper was able to gather it in.
Nikola Vujnovic replaced Khiry Shelton in the 78th minute for his first appearance in a few weeks. A couple minutes later we saw Marinos Tzionis come on for Daniel Salloi. Moves that were surely welcomed by the fanbase, who have been eager to see more of the SKC newcomers.
The positive changes from Vermes were a sign he was going for all three points, as opposed to securing the draw. But it wasn’t enough. The closing minutes of the match started to get a bit heated, but the match ended 0-0.
Sporting KC will be happy with the result as it officially puts them on an unbeaten streak with three straight draws. The defense completely shut down an NYC attack which had proven to be absolutely lethal. Vermes’ men have shown signs of life and now have some momentum on which they can build.
FC Dallas are visiting Children’s Mercy Park on Tuesday in US Open Cup action, and then Sporting KC will travel to Portland to face the Timbers next weekend.