Sporting KC dropped an ugly match at Sporting Park tonight, a loss that hinders their Supporters’ Shield chances going forward. The team now gets six days of rest before its match at home vs Houston Dynamo on Friday. Judging from Sporting KC’s performance tonight, they badly need the rest.
Here are the 5 takeaways from the match.
1. Exhaustion from 3 games in 7 days rears its ugly head
Surprised this wasn’t more of a talking point going into the game, but Peter Vermes has used basically the same starters in the past three matches. Going into the match, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic and Lawrence Olum all played every minute of the team’s two games this week. They all started again tonight, and it was very obvious the defense was gassed.
DC United scored three goals in lightening-quick succession, in the 23rd, 28th and 30th. Proof positive for the fatigue factor was in the first goal, when Fabian Espindola beat Aurelien Collin by a step, allowing him to slot it from outside the box past Jon Kempin. The second and third goals came in breakaways after Chris Rolfe and Perry Kitchen were able to beat the high Sporting KC defensive line. Rolfe made another run past the Sporting KC line in the second half, forcing Kempin to make a saving-face save to prevent 4-0.
2. The back four failed Jon Kempin tonight
The 3 scores from DC United surely doesn’t bode well for Kempin keeping the starting job, but it wasn’t his fault. He probably should’ve stopped the first goal, but it would’ve never happened if Collin didn’t get beat on a move by Espindola. That just doesn’t happen with Collin.
The second and third goals are the types of goals that we’re used to seeing Kempin stone, however he just couldn’t get it done on these two. Kempin did get a 1-on-1 stop on Chris Rolfe in the 58th minute as Rolfe ran past the Sporting KC defensive trap and toward goal, almost resulting in yet another score.
Juliao still doesn’t look like the answer at right back, but Vermes is sticking with him. I’d really like to see Kevin Ellis get more time at right back. Sure, you lose quite a bit of pace at the position, but Ellis is a better defender and still provides the offensive touch that Vermes likes from that side of the field.
3. Fabian Espindola and Luis Silva are suddenly MLS’ best strike partnership
DP Eddie Johnson will have a tough time getting his starting job back next week. Luis Silva and Fabian Espindola are on fire together. Here are their stats from their three starts together:
Luis Silva: 5 Goals, 2 Assists
Fabian Espindola: 2 Goals, 3 Assists
Absolutely on fire. And to think if Silva wasn’t subbed early in the second half…
4. Will the real Sporting KC please stand up?
Just one win in May, then an undefeated July that saw Sporting KC rip off 5 straight away wins–many of which were won shorthanded–and an August that includes a 4-1 win over Toronto FC, a 2-0 loss to Vancouver FC and a 1-1 tie with both Philadelphia and Real Esteli. As we enter the season’s homestretch, we don’t know what to expect on game day anymore. Peter Vermes’ squad have always been a consistent bunch, but this season it’s boom or bust.
The team needs to find its footing soon because in playoff home-and-home series’, or the one-and-done conference finals and championship, one bad game can spell doom for the team’s postseason.
5. Sporting KC’s run for the Supporters’ Shield is likely over
DC United now leads the Supporters’ Shield race with 43 points, which is on ahead of Sporting KC, FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake. Unlike Sporting KC, the others hold games in hand. Seattle holds two (they play tomorrow, so really they hold one) and DC United holds one. LA Galaxy, sitting in 5th with 37 points, hold 3 games in hand compared to Sporting KC.
Right now, it’s just not looking good. The best way for Sporting KC to finish this year is to just forget the race, focus on getting the best seed possible for the playoffs, and establish yourself in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.
Bonus ball: Benny Feilhaber’s shorts
Benny was rockin’ the 70’s NBA short-shorts tonight. His flashy, swooning display of hairy, though well-tanned, man legs didn’t seem to affect the DC United crew as much as hoped. Here’s a picture, because you know you still want to see it… it’s like when your friend tells you to smell his disgusting hat:
Next up: Sporting KC hosts Houston Dynamo on Friday at 7:00 p.m. CT. Sporting defeated Houston 2-0 at BBVA Stadium in early June.