Did I call it or what?
Mere days after I praised Graham Zusi as the only Sporting KC player with a dangerous long shot, he puts in one for the ages from about 50 yards out, and another on a strike from about 20.
Yes, Zusi made me look good this time.
But Zusi wasn’t the only player to find the net – Aurelien Collin and Luke Sassano tallied one each – as Sporting regained their scoring touch in a 4-1 beatdown of FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas.
Despite using another odd lineup due to injuries (Bravo, Smith), national team call-ups (Auvrey, Rocastle, Espinoza), and suspensions (Nielsen, Harrington), SKC played one of their most complete games of the season against the second place team in the Western Conference, who entered the match with a 10 game unbeaten streak.
Sporting struck first in the 28th minute when Zusi created a bit of space for himself and uncorked a low drive that beat former KC keeper Kevin Hartman and found the side netting.
But Dallas evened the score a few minutes later when promising youngster Brek Shea made the Sporting defense look silly by dribbling through three players before sending Chance Myers the wrong way and sliding the ball past replacement keeper Eric Kronberg.
That was the only shot on goal that Dallas would record all night.
Again, the defense stepped up big time and denied Dallas from putting together much possession in SKC’s end. Over and over, Collin and Matt Besler anticipated through balls and cut them out before they could penetrate the back line.
In the first few moments of the second half Zusi played a long corner to the far side of the 6 which CJ Sapong redirected perfectly back across the goal to find a slashing Collin who pushed the point blank shot into the net.
Then Zusi struck again.
After being awarded a free kick near midfield he caught Hartman out of position with a driving, knuckling ball that whizzed into the upper corner of the net. The goal was certainly part keeper error, but make no mistake, the ball that Zusi hit was just about perfect.
And for the nail in the coffin, little used sub Luke Sassano arched a high looper over an oncoming Hartman who was caught in no-man’s-land.
"I’m very happy," commented Sassano. "My first job is to help the team defensively, when I can help them score a goal that is even better. I hope I score a lot more and I’m very happy."
Is Sporting KC hitting their stride? That’s four games in a row without a loss now. And even though the lineup had a lot of new faces, the team was fluid and focused.
Manager Peter Vermes certainly seemed pleased after the game.
"Were undefeated since our New England game which is four straight games now and we have been right there," said Vermes. "There is not a lot that has gone our way this season but credit to the guys because they have been committed. They have not got off the beaten path. They’ve stayed focused and committed on what we are trying to do and believe in each other and that’s a great thing."
The next match for Sporting is this Friday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park against San Jose. The game starts at 7:30.