The race for the Supporter’s Shield took a bad turn for Sporting KC on Friday evening when they lost to the Philadelphia Union, at Sporting Park, 1-0. It was a game that reflected Sporting’s play all season: out possess and shoot the opponent, but fail to get on the score sheet.
Sporting KC managed to possess the ball almost 62% of the time throughout the match. It is a very impressive number, but possession does not always equal goals. That should have come through one of Sporting KC’s 19 shots taken throughout the entire match. Only five of those 19 shots were on target, which is an area that Kansas City needs improvement.
It looked like Kansas City was going to open the scoring early in the game through Benny Feilhaber, who found himself wide open in front of goal. Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was able to guess the direction that Feilhaber was shooting, and kept the game level at 0-0.
MacMath had a fine game to keep Sporting KC from scoring. He saved a great left footed shot from Graham Zusi in the first half, and a Feilhaber free kick that was headed for the top left corner of the goal.
The Union’s only goal came in the 36th minute through MLS veteran Conor Casey. After the Sporting KC defense was unable to clear a cross, Casey was able to find the ball at this foot, which he half-volleyed past Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. It silenced Sporting Park, and Kansas City had to play catch up for the rest of the game.
Even though Sporting KC lost what was for sure three points at home, there was some positive to take from the match. Midfielder Uri Rosell continued his impressive form with some slick footwork and some great passing. Forward C.J. Sapong also played one of his better games of the 2013 year, following his two goal performance last weekend in Toronto. Sapong was a menace to the Union defense all night, and had a few good chances on goal.
With the win, the Union find themselves back in playoff contention. Sporting KC still sits in second place in the Eastern Conference with 48 points, three behind New York, and three ahead of Montreal, who has two games in hand over Sporting KC.
Kansas City has four games remaining in the 2013 season. They are still in the race for the Supporter’s Shield, but it will take other teams losing with Sporting KC winning games to get the elusive trophy. Kansas City is back in action on October 5th when they play against the Columbus Crew on the road.