Sporting KC had a disastrous start to the MLS is Back Tournament and now they’re forced into a must-win situation in their next two games, but especially on Friday.
After dominating in the first half against the under matched Minnesota FC United, Sporting Kansas City choked in the biggest way possible last Sunday night in Orlando.
Sporting had a 1-0 lead at the half and were looking good until goalkeeper Tim Melia was given a red card and ejected from the game, also forcing him to miss the next match as well. Well, as expected, Melia’s absence gave Minnesota momentum because they were playing with an extra man and against a backup goaltender.
That led to two Minnesota goals, both in stoppage time at that, and they actually took the lead in the final minute to deliver the ultimate blow to Sporting Kansas City, a team who should have been poised to go far in this tournament.
Now, Sporting KC’s backs are against the wall.
While only eight teams in the MLS is Back Tournament won’t advance to the semifinals, Sporting didn’t exactly put themselves in a great spot with that meltdown this past Sunday against Minnesota. They’re now in a situation where they have to win against Colorado on Friday evening.
Colorado also sits in the basement of Group D after losing to Salt Lake and this is a match that Sporting Kansas City should be able to win. The looming question, however, is can Richard Sanchez, if named the starter, put on a better performance this time than he did against Minnesota?
We can’t entirely put all of the blame on Sanchez. Everything melted down for Sporting in that match and the team held off a one-man up Minnesota squad until the final minutes. They more than likely win the match if Melia is not issued the red card and all is good with the club.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it went down.
Colorado never got much going against Real Salt Lake during their match, but they’ll also be determined to get a win. They’ve had Sporting’s number as of late, but playing at high altitude won’t be a factor this time around since the game is on a neutral playing field, so that’s definitely something to take into account.
Sporting is the more talented club, but not having their rockstar goalie is going to hurt. Hopefully they’ll right the wrong from this past weekend’s loss and put on a scoring clinic so that it’s not all on Sanchez.
If Sporting can win out, they’ll advance for sure. If they lose on Friday, it won’t be looking good. This would normally be a match I’d feel confident in, but the lack of goalkeeper depth behind Melia is troubling and could cost Sporting a shot at advancing.
If Sporting KC loses to the Rapids, they could be in a heap of trouble as far as this tournament goes.