Shiny new stadium? Check. New brand, new name? Check. International star? Check. Lots of promotion and media attention? Check.
Results?… Umm… what’s the opposite of "check"?
Were there some real positives to take away from Saturday’s disappointing stoppage time loss at Seattle?
Does that make me feel much better about this team? No, not really… okay, maybe a little… maybe…
For one, the starting lineup was finally one I could get behind. Omar Bravo returned to the starting lineup after weeks out due to injury. Ryan Smith made his first start of the season. And Matt Besler won his starting center defender spot back from disappointing Julio Cesar, hopefully for good now. Heck, it was even nice to see Craig Rocastle in there at defensive mid, winning balls and getting in on a bunch of tackles.
The game was mostly a back and forth affair, with neither team really dominating possession or creating a whole lot of dangerous scoring chances. Sporting KC’s best chance was probably in the first half when Ryan Smith got in behind the left side of the Seattle defense. He cracked a shot at Kasey Keller, who made a decent save on the effort.
But that was about it. For the rest of the game, scoring opportunities for either team were few and far between.
Definitely one of the more boring games to watch so far this year.
Another bright spot was the general organization and composure of the defense, which played fairly well as a group and didn’t allow a goal through 90 plus minutes. Besler’s presence helped, and he made a spectacular sliding block on Seattle’s best opportunity of the night, a breakaway that looked like trouble until the last second.
Seattle finally broke through on a corner from Sporting castaway Tyson Wahl who served a normal ball to about the six yard line, where a seemingly unmarked Jeff Parke easily slotted home the header, ripping the hearts out of an already disheartened Sporting side that wanted nothing more than to just get out of town with a point.
"I thought we deserved something out of the game today," said a disappointed Davy Arnaud after the game. "We defended well, we didn’t give them any legitimate chances, and anything they got was on set pieces. We worked so hard for each other defensively and stuck to our game plan and we deserved to get a point out of this game. It hurts to give up a goal like that. The work we put in, we deserved something out of it."
Unfortunately, they don’t give out points for effort. The bottom line is the bottom line, as they say.
Coach Peter Vermes was equally frustrated.
"Easily should have been a draw, especially since we are playing away from home," commented Vermes. "We were organized in the way we played and disciplined in our assignments and worked very hard. It is always difficult, but even more so when you play games like this. To lose a game like this when you work so hard for ninety-plus minutes is difficult."
So what can Sporting do? I guess just put it behind them and move on. And like I said, there were some real positives. In the grand scheme of things a 1-0 loss at a venue like Qwest Field that offers such a strong home field advantage isn’t the end of the world.
It’s just that when you pile all the other disappointments on top of one another, that pile just looks huge and stinky.
And what’s up with Teal Bunbury? Remember when he looked dangerous running at defenders with the ball at his feet? No? Think back a few months, I swear he did. Now he looks like an athletic player who predictably thinks he can beat everyone with his speed alone, without any trickery. But he can’t.
Sporting KC now has two more road games to get all the kinks worked out before the home opener on June 9th. Though disappointing, in my opinion the Seattle game was a step in the right direction.