Sporting KC Roundtable: Best of March

The staff at Reporting KC have a roundtable of Sporting KC’s best player, goal and save from March.

With the month of March already behind us (and April off to a rough start) we thought we here at Reporting KC would reflect back on Sporting Kansas City’s first month of the 2016 season.

We’ll be taking a roundtable approach and having staff members vote on (and support) their favorite player, goal and save of the month. Let’s not waste anymore time and get right into it.

Player of the Month

Chad Smith: Nuno Andre Coelho had a fantastic debut for his club. First, and most importantly, he partnered with Matt Besler and the rest of the backline (with Tim Melia) to not allow a single goal during the run of play in the month of March (let’s ignore how April started). On top of that Nuno also scored the game winning goal (and the first of the season and his Sporting KC career) against the Seattle Sounders. You couldn’t ask for much better of a debut from a new player who hasn’t seen the field since 2014.

Eric Atcheson: Since the egg Nuno laid against RSL was technically in April, he can still win my vote for March.  His goal against Seattle had more to do with cringe-inducing goalkeeping than any real finishing prowess on Nuno’s part, so I’m more voting for him for his defensive contributions. Compared to the sieve-like qualities the defense showed down the stretch in 2015, its March shutouts were a different sight altogether…but the rest of the SKC defense (Melia, Myers, Besler, Dia, Mustivar) are all incumbents, Nuno is the variable, and he proved his worth.

Mitch Egan: Coelho was an absolute machine last month. He came in 19th overall in defensive stats according to Opta with a 7.39 rating. The next closest SKC players being Tim Melia and Mustivar had a 7.12 rating. SKC defensively was 8th overall with a 6.86 rating. While it would have been nice to see his stats before we played RSL, it looks as though Coelho is doing a pretty great job as CB. His ability to hold onto the ball and make the right decision playing out of the back is complementary to Besler. It is nice to have a CB that can get his head up and search for the open man without bombing it down field and losing possession.

Consensus Winner: Nuno Andre Coelho.

Goal of the Month

CS: Dom Dwyer had two goals against the Vancouver Whitecaps. His second was really a testament to Graham Zusi and Chance Myers beautifully setting Dwyer up. Dwyer was where he was supposed to be to get a prototypical “striker goal.” His first goal on the other hand was just an amazing strike from Dwyer. He was fighting through the middle of several players and sent a long strike right into the back of the net. Somehow, this goal didn’t win MLS Goal of the Week (I suspect ballot box stuffing for a mediocre Cyle Larin goal from Orlando City fans).

EA: I’ll dissent with Chad on this one and pick Dom’s second strike against Vancouver simply because it was such a tremendous team goal.  These sorts of awards tend to overemphasize individual play at times, and recognizing the team effort behind a genuinely aesthetically pleasing strike is important too.

ME: I never thought I would say Brad Davis had SKC’s goal of the month. The reason I am not picking Dom’s or Coelho’s goal is because of the impact of Brad’s goal. What I mean is that Brad was one of the most hated players by SKC fans. For him to sub on, create a chance (even if it was controversial), and bang a goal into the far post to win the game was enormous. I think as far as shock and awe goes that goal might be my favorite of the month.

Winner: Dom Dwyer’s team goal with assists from Zusi and Myers (Eric’s argument swayed me).

Save of the Month

CS: Tim Melia has made a number of fantastic saves this season. I could easily see giving him the set piece save against Clint Dempsey. However, I’m going to be boring and go with Melia’s first ever MLS Save of the Week winner. Against Toronto, Sebastian Giovinco sent a lovely through ball to Tsubasa Endoh who was one on one with Melia. Somehow, Melia got a touch on the ball and it flipped up into the air and it hit the crossbar. It was a great save and, like the Dempsey save, ended up preserving a one goal win.

EA: I’ll crib from Chad on this one.  Having to react while moving forward in a one-on-one is a very difficult thing to do, which is why strikers will often change direction or attempt to chip the keeper–it forces the keeper to shift their momentum. Melia’s athleticism and reflexes, though, were able to push Endoh’s shot almost ludicrously onto the crossbar, and it deservedly won a Save of the Week award.

ME: As for save of the month I think it has to go to Melia’s save against Toronto. As comeback player of the year a lot of people were looking for Melia to have a great season in 2016. It didn’t take him long to prove them right This save kept the clean sheet and allowed SKC to fire back with a 1-0 victory. Melia is now 18-8-5 with a 1.08 goals against average in all competitions for SKC. Not too bad for a MLS pool goal keeper.

Consensus Winner: Tim Melia’s save against Endoh of Toronto FC.

What categories do you want to see added? Do you want us to break it down to offensive and defensive player of the month. Substitute of the month? We are open to your ideas.