After a much needed two week break, last-in-the-West Sporting Kansas City returned to MLS play at home against the New England Revolution. Sitting at just 13 points through 15 matches, Vermes’ men llooked to take advantage of a the long rest to try and get a bit more healthy and begin the turnaround of what has been a supremely disappointing season to say the least.
While a bit more healthy than they were two weeks ago—Graham Zusi returned to the starting lineup—there was still a ways to go as midfielder Felipe Hernandez made the start at striker/false 9.
New England entered the game looking to turn things around themselves, as last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners sat in just 11th place in the East.
While neither team came out too threatening on the attack, Sporting KC definitely had the better chances early on. Felipe had a shot from distance that went just left of the net, and a couple balls in the box gave SKC some moments around New England’s net.
The Revs first real attacking threat didn’t come until around 28 minutes into the match, but a quality clearance from Uri Rosell kept New England from even getting a shot off.
Moments later, after a great counter run from Cam Duke down the length of the pitch, Borrero sent a floating cross into the box at the feet of Bou, who was able to slide the ball past Melia for the game’s opening score, in the 30th minute.
Neither team had many quality chances for the remainder of the half, and the score stayed at 1-0 going into the halftime break.
Clearly unhappy with how his defense played, Vermes made the unusual call to change both centerbacks at halftime, bringing in Andreu Fontas and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin for Kortne Ford and Robert Voloder.
Any hopes of a better second half quickly took a nose dive just two minutes in when Uri Rosell was shown a second yellow for a late challenge on Carles Gil, leaving SKC with just 10 men for the majority of the second 45 minutes.
Johnny Russell wasn’t ready to give up that easily. Moments after Sporting went down a man, Johnny took an absolutely sublime free kick and perfectly placed it into the top right corner to level the game at 1-1 in the 52nd minute.
After the goal Sporting KC had a renewed sense of energy. Though they were down a man, they were on the attacking front foot and were controlling possession and the pace of play. The high-risk, high-reward style often left Fontas and Isi as the only two players back defensively, leaving Melia to make a couple of impressive saves to keep the game level.
Things settled down a bit after the second hydration break, giving New England a bit of life back in the game. Roger Espinoza made a gut-busting run to head a ball away from Bou that would have left him with a clear shot on goal, and Melia punched away a knuckling shot that was on target.
Despite their fight through most of the second half, Sporting were eventually worn down by the Revs man advantage. Gustavo Bou found enough space to send a shot on target in the 88th minute that Melia couldn’t quite gather in, and Emmanuel Boateng was there to punch in the rebound to give the Revs the 2-1 lead, and ultimately the final score.
The game certainly didn’t end the way Vermes or Sporting had hoped as Kansas City desperately need points to start fighting their way back up the Western Conference table. The lack of result leaves SKC in last place in the West with just 13 points through 16 games.
Though Sporting didn’t get a result, there was a glimmer of hope for Kansas City Fans. ESPN commentators Jon Champion and Taylor Twellman reported at halftime that Sporting KC are preparing to sign attackers Erik Thommy and William Agada. Thommy is a 27-year-old winger/midfielder from Vfb Stuttgart with 11 appearances this year, and Agada is a 22-year-old center forward from Hapoel Jerusalem with 24 starts and five goals in league play this year.
While Twellman could not get confirmation from Vermes, he said he did learn of the signings from European scouts. He also added that these signings may be more about 2023 than 2022, but Sporting KC could certainly use the attacking reinforcements now.
Sporting KC next travel to Tennessee to take on Nashville SC on June 19.