It was a pretty standard season opener, which is to say both teams looked a little disjointed and it was cold outside. Let's take a quick look at how each of Sporting Kansas City’s players faired during the 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers.
Before we get into the ratings let me describe my scale:
1 - Never Play Again. You shall be cursed to the fifth generation for your travesties.
5 - Your play was completely unoffensive. You are a cream wall in an office park building.
10 - You are the chosen one! They will forever sing of your aptitude! You are the most interesting man in the world!
Finally, for all of the player ratings I am giving them an early season grace period. So, a 5 today may be a 3 in August. Let's get to it!
John Pulskamp - 6
Pulskamp had a few really terrific saves including a nice double save near the beginning. I would have probably given him a 7 or 8 but the one mistake he did make was to let a ball slide right under him and into the back of the net which definitely hurts his score.
Graham Zusi - 5
Graham had a quiet night, it seems like Peter Vermes was wanting him to stay home a bit for the first half and it showed with the right side of the field (also where Khiry was, but we will get to that later) being largely invisible before the 70th minute. He delivered a mixed bag of good and bad crosses and made no major defensive mistakes.
Rober Voloder - 3
Was responsible for a terrible defensive error early in the game that was only prevented from being a goal by the aforementioned double save by Pulskamp. He also struggled in the second half with his role of being the roaming center-back while the team was chasing an equalizer.
Andreu Fontas - 6
Fontas has a solid night defensively, he lacked a bit of his rangy passing abilities that we are used to seeing but overall was solid in his role. He will need to stay healthy to anchor this backline if Sporting wants to make a deep run.
Ben Sweat - 5
Ben Sweat had a terrible error which led to the goal but he was also involved in some excellent interplay with Thommy and Salloi. In the end, it balanced out to a 5 even if the highs and lows swayed from that number. Seemed like he could have kept going when he was subbed out at the 73rd minute.
Remi Walter - 8 - Man of the Match
Walter was everywhere on the field intercepting passes and circulating the ball. He broke up several counter-attacking plays and was a constant nuisance to every opposing midfielder. I can't wait to see what he can do at the #8 position with a little bit more room to roam (assuming Nemanja Radoja can take over the defensive-mid role soon).
Roger Espinoza - 6
Roger made a few errors and had a lot of slick switches of play. While he lacks the ability to eat up grass like he used to it's hard to argue he does not still have some great tools in the bag. He definitely started to drag near the end of his 70-minute appearance. Hopefully, Peter will recognize that, and he will not be a player going the 90 at all this year.
Erik Thommy - 7
Had lots of bright moments and tested the keeper a few times but lacked a little bit of clinicalness to finish his chances. I was disappointed to see him go off in the 71st minute because he seemed the most likely to get a goal on the team.
Khiry Shelton - 3
Is it fair to judge Khiry for what he is? I am not sure but suffice to say I was neither surprised nor pleased by his play. He had a few nice interceptions but looked utterly clueless as to what to do with the ball when he had the opportunity to shoot.
Willy Agada - 4
Struggled to get onto the ball the entire game. And skied his header on a great cross which would have tied things up near the end. I expect we will see better from Willy because it felt like he was the victim of lackluster service for a most of the night.
Daniel Salloi - 6
Combined well with Sweat, Walter, and Thommy but showed some early season rust in front of the goal. He had a few nice touches that let him beat his opposing fullback throughout the night and overall worked hard.
Felipe Hernandez - 6
Had a lively and aggressive 24 or so minutes on the field. He had a nice touch to draw a yellow and was a much-needed injection of pace. Hopefully, we see him get more starts.
Marinos Tzionis - 5
Showed off his excellent feet by regularly dribbling out of tight spaces in his 24-minute appearance. Struggled with holding onto the ball a bit too long and failing to find the final pass. I would mostly chalk up those issues to him being played in a different position as an attacking midfielder.
Tim Leibold - 4
While I think Liebold did nothing wrong in his sub appearance I also feel like he did not bring any new energy. If he was a starter, I would probably give him a 5, but as a substitute, you need to come in and push the worn-out opposition.
Peter Vermes - 4
His team looked out of ideas on set pieces, generating eleven corners but if I recall correctly generating zero shots on goals from them. And there is no way in hell you will convince me the team was better off leaving Khiry on the field than Thommy for Tzionis. All that said his team generated more shots, and possession, and generally looked like the better team. I think you could argue he deserves a 5 but I am weighting his rating more towards in-game management rather than general setup.
While it was not a spectacular night for the boys in blue, I think there were some promising signs and I tend to not read too much into the first five games of the season. What do you think of my ratings? Who do you think I got wrong? Let me know in the comments.