Donnelly: Sporting Passes Big Test, Stays Perfect With 1-0 Win Over Real Salt Lake

It’s official.

Sporting Kansas City is killing it. No, we don’t need to get into the whole "Sporting is the best pro team rght now in Kansas City" thing,  because that undermines the legitmacy of MLS soccer.

Let’s just call it like it is. SKC are 6-0, have sold out 3 of 4 home games, and have allowed one goal this whole season- and that was off a set piece as a result of a horrible call from the ref.

This past Saturday’s game at LIVESTRONG against Real Salt Lake was one that most considered a likely preview of the MLS Cup Final. Fittingly, the atmosphere was electric, as everyone’s now come to expect.

When it was all said and done, Sporting Kansas City remained perfect at 6-0, though they did finally allow a shot on goal for the first time in 335 minutes.

Allegedly.

"The header at the end was actually offside," commented KC boss Peter Vermes of RSL’s only "shot on goal" that came near the end of regulation. "They actually did not get a shot on goal."

Though the season is young, Sporting Kansas City of the Eastern Conference and Real Salt Lake of the West have both already established themselves as the class of the league, along with New York and Seattle.

When the game started the respect that both squads have for each other was apparent right off the bat, with some cagey play to begin while the two sides felt each other out. Sporting seemed content to just sit back and keep their shape, guarding against any initial rush that Salt Lake might bring.

The opening was so tentative in fact, that KC’s playmaker Graham Zusi had barely even touched the ball until about ten minutes in.

But KC started looking like their old selves around the 22nd minute mark, keeping the ball and knocking it around. They also began pressing a bit higher than they were at the beginning of the game- one of their trademarks- which seemed to open the game up for both teams.

Right before halftime, KC finally broke through off a classy headball from CJ Sapong.

Or so it seemed. After CJ rose and directed a lofting header into the opposite side netting, the ref immediately disallowed the goal for an alleged shove.

Replays showed that the Salt Lake player either tripped or took a dive, and Sapong barely even made contact. At halftime, boos rained down upon the ref, who up to that point had called a very consistent game.

Early on in the second half, KC was back on the front foot, though both teams were creating a little bit. Crazily, KC earned 9 corners in the first half, and 4 or 5 more in the first twenty minutes of the second half. Those kind of numbers are fairly unheard of.

 And it was ultimately a corner that KC used in the 63rd minute to finally get on the board. Wild Frenchman Aurelien Collin rose up and connected at the far corner of the six-yard box virtually unmarked to bulge the back of the net right in front of a cheering Cauldron to put the boys in blue up 1-0.

Sporting nearly cashed in another corner 10 minutes later, but Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando made a fantastic sprawling save and punched the ball off the line.

After the ref blew the final whistle it was obvious the weight that the Sporting players and coaching staff felt with this game, fists pumping and hugs all around. Everyone lingered on the field longer than usual, which may have been what prompted one overzealous fan to jump the barrier and get taken down immediately by a couple cops, who threw the guy into the goal, tangling him in the net like a flopping fish.

Again, KC simply outworked their opponent and efforted themselves into a win. 

"I don’t think that I’ve seen anything like that before in my life," said White Puma Jimmy NIelsen. "That’s credit to the whole organization and the team. Our defense starts with C.J., and if he’s in good position, he’s making the midfielders’ job easy. And if the midfielders’ job is easy, that makes the defenders’ job easy. And if the defense is in good position, it makes my job very, very easy."

And the defense has been golden so far.

"I’ll put us two up against anyone in the league right now," said Matt Besler of his partnership with fellow center defender Collin. "Our team is very confident, especially our back four. He’s been great all season."

 

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6 Responses to Donnelly: Sporting Passes Big Test, Stays Perfect With 1-0 Win Over Real Salt Lake

  1. the dude says:

    Hats off
    again to the defense and Collin, awesome playing boys. Keep on the pressure and the burn.

  2. Markus Aurelius says:

    that was elite level soccer play on Sat
    Both teams played very, very well but I’m not sure that we can move the ball much better than we did on Sat. Sans the first 20 minutes, our ball control and ball movement was phenomonal. Zusi and Espinosa were stalwarts in the middle, Convey has hit his stride and almost is beginning to fit like an old glove (can you say Omar who??). He and Sinovic are really beginning to mesh well. On the right side, Kei and Myers have become a very good to excellent tandem. Once again Chance ALMOST had his first MLS goal and once again Cesar’s experience and defensive positioning was superb. Collin and Besler were fantastic – just as they’ve been all season.

    You can tell our guys all really like playing with, AND FOR, each other and that makes all the difference.

    I really think our plan to challenge RSL on every ball possession to speed up RSL’s ball movement really caused problems for them. I didn’t count know how many times our rush to the ball disrupted their play but it was a lot. Still, RSL looked pretty stinkin’ good. Too bad we didn’t play that way against the Dynamo in the playoffs last year.

    As an aside, although I played soccer for 8 years as a youth I’ll admit I never followed the Wizards except very briefly during our title run in 2000. However, after going to a game at LSP soon after it opened last summer, this team and the incredible experience at LSP got me hooked. While SKC’s style of play and success on the field have (obviously) had an effect on my level of enthusiasm but this time last year I would have called you crazy if you would have suggested I’d be an SKC fan a year later.

    This team and this ownership group are impossible not to like. Speaking of the ownership group, can you imagine Clark Hunt or Dan/David Glass being willing to show certain replays to the fans in the stadium knowing that doing so would result in a fine by the league? This ownership group is proving that they put their fans first, even if that means having to kick dollars back to the league for violating the league’s policy regarding certain replays during the game. My guess is SKC will get a fine for showing the replay of the phantom foul by Sapong (talk about a horrible, horrible call).

    6-0 baby!

  3. Markus Aurelius says:

    c’mon Hearne – how about either (1) the ability to edit….
    …. comments, or (2) a larger text box when typing comments so we can actually see our entire post. My bad for not editing my post in the tiny text box we currently have but in 2012 there is no reason for KCC not to have better functionality in the management of comments, especially given the fact that comments are a large part of the life blood of KCC. My two cents.

  4. Blackjack says:

    I had assumed that last season they were possibly playing above their heads, and would be coming back down to earth this season. But they have actually been even better. The big surprise is that SKC is actually stronger defensively that their offense.

    I have been on the bandwagon since they were the Wizards playing at Arrowhead. So to see this level of success with the fan following is especially gratifying, although it was almost better when they were a well-kept secret. Well, now the secret’s out!

  5. Matt says:

    Markus: I may have heard that there are some changes coming soon to KCC, including formatting stuff that should improve theoverall functionality. So stay tuned for that and hopefully it will solve some of the comments problems.

    Blackjack: Count me among those that thought KC would be good, but not this good. I must say I have been pleasantly surprised. And selfishly, a little upset that the SKC cat is now out of the bag.

  6. legendaryhog says:

    Vermes, make me the new SKC keeper
    Alright, this is not a joke. Seriously, I would be an awesome SKC keeper. Allow me to explain why

    1. I will play for cheaper than Nielson. In 2010, Jimmie made $ 141,666. I will play for a few tickets for my beotches, unlimited beer, and I get to kick one person in the nuts per appearance (I

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