Donnelly: LIVESTRONG Crowd Lifts Sporting To Last-Second Tie

Sporting KC defender Roger EspinozaWith only 10 minutes left in the game, the sold out crowd at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park decided enough was enough.

Despite dominating possession for the first 80 minutes, Sporting KC had eeked its way through the match against Chivas USA, looking uninterested and un-energetic. Not to mention a lack of offensive creativity, which was blatantly obvious after Chivas scored a goal and decided to pack men in front of its goal.

"I thought that we were pretty unorganized in the first half," said SKC coach Peter Vermes after the game. "During halftime, I said to the guys that in the last 11 games that we’ve played, it is probably the worst half of soccer that I’ve seen us play."

Staring down a 1-0 deficit with the clock ticking away, the energy in the building shifted.  All 18,000 fans urged the home squad on and there was a feeling something special was about to happen.  It may seem hyperbolic, but seriously, you could just FEEL it.

The incredible acoustics at LIVESTRONG made the Supporters’ Section’s chants seem bigger and louder, echoing through every corner of the stadium. 

Suddenly, Sporting was attacking with a purpose, creating dangerous chances and opening up the Chivas defense.  With just seconds remaining in the game, Matt Besler sent a long ball up into the box in hopes of a kind deflection or lucky bounce.  CJ Sapong was first to it, and just nudged it with his head toward a rushing Kei Kamara, who tangled with a defender to pop the ball up in front of the net. 

Then Omar Bravo streaked into the area, leaped in the air and got to the ball first, blasting a header into the back of the net to draw the scoreSporting KC striker Omar Bravo even.  Moments later the final whistle sounded, and thankful fans applauded the gumption of their team. 

Sporting sent the love right back at ’em.

"I’ve said this all along, during the 10-game road stretch, you’re the enemy so you never get any applause or ‘good jobs,’" said Vermes.  "So, it’s fantastic, it’s a huge help to the players. I just hope that we can continue to be able to reciprocate with the fans for their support."

A good start in the reciprocating category would be to eliminate the slow starts that have plagued Sporting for the last few games. 

"Since it’s the second time its happened, it’s kind of bothersome," commented defender Matt Besler.  "For some reason, we’ve come out a little bit flat the last two games at home, so there’s no excuse for that really."

There really isn’t. 

The last two games have both seen Sporting dominate possession but fall behind early on soft goals.  Part of the frustration is that Sporting has been able to hold the ball, knock it around the back, and build an attack. But when they get in the final third things seem to break down a bit. 

And usually the ball is fed through to the corner where a player making a flanking run serves a cross in the air.  Rarely does Sporting generate any shots that aren’t either breakaways or off crosses, so its attack is somewhat predictable, or, some might say, stagnant.

Just having that one player who is tricky and unpredictable enough to spring teammates open is what’s missing.  A player like, say, Ryan Smith

Unfortunately, Smith is long gone and doesn’t seem likely to return.  So who can play that role NOW

Graham Zusi could be that guy, but he was subbed out in the first half with a recurring ankle injury.

But even with the offensive struggles, Sporting continues to make strides, and has yet to suffer a defeat in its new home.

"We have a lot of games left, and we have a lot of games left at home," said Vermes.  "I feel that we’re starting to come into our own as a team, and we’re going to continue to hopefully get results."

The next home game for SKC is Tuesday against the Richmond Kickers as part of the US Open Cup.  Game starts at 7:30.
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6 Responses to Donnelly: LIVESTRONG Crowd Lifts Sporting To Last-Second Tie

  1. Johnny S says:

    WHHOOOOOAAAAAA……What happened to the front page article where we were discussing the crossrodskc subjecting patrons to 100 degree temperature concerts….. like last night’s Ben Folds show. I would have liked to have gone to that show, but crossrodskc wont get any more of my money until they fix their broke barn yard…. plus come on man….even the “he mans” out there have to draw the line at 95 degree 90 percent humidity… all while breathing the dust from the mulch..

    Can you believe people had to deal with 100 degree temps to see Ben Folds last night, when Ben Folds should have / could have played in the air conditioned Uptown or Voodoo lounge or Midland? I hope nobody had a heat stroke…. I am going to see Ted Nugent at the Midland Wednesday, I love to rock…I simply want to do it inside at an air conditioned venue when it is 100 degree weather.

    Anyway…. I find it hard to believe that Hearne would pull and article off the front page just because a truth was being told which he did not like. It cant be, Hearne wouldnt do that? would he??? Let me look again, maybe I made a mistake and just did not see it…….ummmm uh oh, I dont see it….. 🙁

    If Hearne will censor that, I wonder what el$e he would cen$or?

    Watch out Hearne, it is a $lippery slope when you $tart manipulating what you want people to $ee, or not $ee, depending on who is paying you.

    The truth is it…… it is easy to see, easy to report, juts be honest…… and let the chips fall where they will, but dont sell your soul.

  2. smartman says:

    Johnny B Goode
    Careful Johnny, Hearne may have Craig Glazer threaten to kick your ass. Don’t mess with the god couple.

  3. Johnny S says:

    OK OK
    OK ok.. I was just asking, but I guess it is not up for discussion……
    oh well, guess we know what to expect from now on…

  4. legendaryhog says:

    uhhh….why is this thread on the SKC article?

  5. ScoJo77 says:

    I love this stadium and this crowd! I started watching the KC Wiz because I missed Royals opening day one season. KC’s a great sports town, and when you really sit and reflect on the fact that we’ve got this sparkling new stadium and ambitious owners, you’ve got to be excited about it. I’m surprised they’re not drawing 35,000 like they do in Seattle.

  6. Matt says:

    I love the stadium too…
    ScoJo, but it only holds about 18,500.

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