Sporting Kansas City had the opportunity to earn at least a point against red-hot Colorado Rapids FC but a bad turnover led to the late game-deciding goal.
Sporting Kansas City fans have seen it all too often. A bad pass by the team’s back line leads to a poor turnover which in turn leads to a goal for the opposing side. It happened again on Saturday and it turned out to be the difference in the match.
Colorado was unbeaten in 13 straight matches going into Saturday night’s contest and led Major League Soccer with just two losses all season. Sporting KC’s momentum came to a halt on Wednesday when the squad lost a frustrating match in Chicago.
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During the uneventful first half, both teams saw a fair amount of possession but neither team had many scoring chances. That was the case throughout the entire match as Colorado finished with just two shots on goal and Sporting KC with three.
One of those two shots on goal proved to be the game winner. In the 78th minute, Ike Opara, tried to pass the ball through two Colorado defenders to Saad Abdul-Salaam. Marlon Hairston intercepted the pass, ran with the ball to the edge of the box and curled a beauty of a shot past Tim Melia for the game winning goal.
Sporting’s biggest opportunity came in stoppage time, when the ball found Diego Rubio in the box but he was taken down from behind. The tackle resulted in no foul, much to the dismay of SKC players, coaches and fans. The final whistle blew a few moments later and Sporting KC dropped the match 1-0.
While fans have the right to be outraged, the missed call on the penalty takes away attention from the fact that Sporting failed to create any legitimate scoring opportunities up to that point. Sporting had at least 14 shot attempts for the second straight match, but only managed to put three on goal in Colorado, up from just two in Chicago.
SKC’s problem currently lies with their attacking third, which has been shut out in two straight matches after scoring 10 goals in the five prior.
Peter Vermes went back to Ike Opara and Lawrence Olum at the center back positions on Saturday after starting Matt Besler and Nuno Coelho Wednesday in Chicago. Besler was absent from the Starting XI for the third time in four matches and you have to wonder how long it will last because he has far too much talent to regularly go into matches as a substitute.
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Vermes is big on the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality and mentioned that the team was having success with the pair of Opara and Olum at center back. They would continue to get the nod at those positions. While the defense hasn’t been the problem over the last two matches, another bone-headed pass by Opara leading to an opposing goal may earn him a match or two out of the lineup.
Graham Zusi also missed the game on Saturday, his third straight match missed since pulling a hamstring and being a late scratch before the match against NYCFC. After two straight shut outs, Sporting are desperate to get Zusi back in the lineup to help create chances.
Sporting returns home next Saturday to face Seattle Sounders FC, who currently sit second to last in the Western Conference but have played extremely well over the second half of the season the last few years. They’ll then host Portland Timbers FC, who sit in seventh in the West, just two points behind SKC, who hold the final playoff spot.
Returning home and playing two clubs below them in the standings should help Sporting get back on track, and it will be crucial to do so as the playoff race heats up down the stretch of the season.