Sporting KC lost the match and its five match unbeaten streak following a controversial, chippy loss to rival Chicago Fire.
Red hot Sporting Kansas City played their second of three matches in seven days on Wednesday when they traveled to Toyota Park to take on the Chicago Fire. The match was delayed more than an hour and a half due to a weather delay but things eventually got started just after 9:00 P.M. central time.
Manager Peter Vermes made a few changes to his line up, particularly to the back line. Though they were gelling well and the team was hot, Vermes gave Ike Opara and Lawrence Olum rest against the Fire as Sporting play another match in Colorado in four days.
Matt Besler and Nuno Coelho got the nod instead. It was in no way a drop off as the pair started the season and dominated on the back line playing together.
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In the attacking third, Graham Zusi wasn’t with the team again after suffering hamstring tightness and being a late scratch prior to the last match. Connor Hallisey started in place of him. Dom Dwyer returned to the starting six after missing the last match due to suspension.
The match started with quite a bit of controversy as Dom Dwyer headed a set piece cross into the back of the net but the goal was negated due to an offsides call. Dwyer and company were displeased as nearly all replay angles showed Dwyer was onside. Sometimes things just have a way of evening themselves out, as two of Sporting KC’s goals in the previous match came following questionable
The controversy continued in the 19th minute when Chicago quickly took a free kick following a foul. Sporting KC players were taken completely off guard by the restart. A debate sparked over whether play was supposed to be resumed. The Fire took advantage of the confusion and advanced right past a disoriented SKC squad, as Michael de Leeuw put the ball in the back of the net for his first career MLS goal.
Sporting KC came painfully close to equalizing before the half but a Jacob Peterson stoppage time shot went off the post and SKC went into the break trailing 0-1.
Sporting KC dominated the possession category for the second consecutive match, particularly in the second half, as Chicago sat on the slim lead. Even after finishing with 68% of the possession and out-shooting Chicago 20-3(!), Kansas City couldn’t find an equalizer in the second half and lost the match 0-1.
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The loss was particularly painful for Sporting because they were far and away the better team. Chicago took advantage of a quick restart following a foul and earned a questionable goal and sat on it for the rest of the match.
Add to the fact that Sporting had a goal taken away by a call equally as questionable and another potential equalizer go off the crossbar just before halftime. This game had the potential for a much different outcome. A loss is a loss and Wednesday marked the end of SKC’s five match unbeaten streak making this loss hurt even more.
While disheartening, the loss isn’t crippling for Sporting in the Western Conference playoff race. They remain three points clear of the final playoff spot with plenty of time left in the season to widen that gap.
porting completed their road trip and three-match week on Saturday evening, when they travel to Colorado to take on Rapids FC and their newly acquired keeper, US Men’s Nation Team legend Tim Howard. Colorado is second in the Western Conference and has been a top MLS club all season long. Playing a team ahead of them in the standings is a huge opportunity for SKC to continue to climb back toward the top.