Donnelly: Sporting Wins Ugly in New England, Espinoza Sitting Pretty in Old England

Over the weekend, Sporting KC eked out a forgettable 1-0 win at the New England Revolution.

The lone goal came courtesy of a struggling Teal Bunbury, who capitalized when a New England defender misjudged a high bouncing ball.  Bunbury scooped it up, took a touch, and finished the breakaway easily, looking unsurprised after putting the ball into the back of the net.

Me?  I was surprised.  It’s a play he’s blown a bunch of times this season, and his nonchalance afterwards came across almost as relief – or disbelief – that he’d actually finished the routine play.

Other than that goal, probably the most entertaining part of the game was watching Peter Vermes and New England boss Jay Heaps scream at each other.  I actually felt bad for a ref for once – the fourth official who had to stand between the two coaches.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Sporting midfielder Roger Espinoza was fighting for his native Honduras’ Olympic life against the legendary samba soccer boys of Brazil.

And fight he did, scoring a goal that gave Honduras a 2-1 lead even though they were a man down for over half the game.  Espinoza also played a big part in setting up the first goal, beating a Brazilian defender before sending a cross into the box.

Even though Honduras lost the game 3-2, and even though Espinoza was issued a red card in the 90th minute, all reports indicate he was given a rousing standing ovation from the British crowd, his teammates -and even from the Brazilian bench.

That’s a bit unusual to say the least.

Honduras head coach Luis Suarez chalked it up to the relentless midfielder’s epic game, which Espinoza himself has said was his best ever.

“We are used to seeing him play in such a way,” Suarez told Fox News Latino’s Michael Lewis. “He’s a such an excellent player. He wears his heart on his sleeve.”

“People were disappointed to see him leave the field, but I was not surprised to see the ovation from the crowd because they clearly recognize quality from him,” he said.

Others are starting to recognize Espinoza’s quality, too.  At halftime of the LA Galaxy-Seattle Sounders game last night, American soccer clown Alexi Lalas said he had spoken to Espinoza’s agent, and that several EPL teams, and at least one La Liga team is interested.

But is Roger interested in heading to Europe?  You bet.

“That’s the plan, obviously,” Espinoza told Lewis. “I want to play in a top league and the English Premier League is one of my favorite leagues. If the chance arises, I wouldn’t hesitate to be here. I love the league. I watch it every morning in the USA.”

So there you have it, KC.  Enjoy Roger while you still can.

Your next chance?

Why, it’s just around the corner, Wednesday night to be exact, out at LIVESTRONG for the US Open Cup Final against Seattle.  Word is, Roger hopped on a plane right after Honduras was eliminated and will be available for the final, which I’m predicting will be the largest crowd and best atmosphere in the stadium’s brief history.

Until the MLS Cup Final, of course…
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9 Responses to Donnelly: Sporting Wins Ugly in New England, Espinoza Sitting Pretty in Old England

  1. Rick Nichols says:

    It was a much-needed win for Sporting, but on the whole the Revolution looked the better side on Saturday night, generating more quality chances and keeping the Kansas City offense in check aside from Bunbury’s “breakaway” goal. Still, it was nice to see a Kansas City player finish when he had a golden opportunity to do so. The squad will need more of that on Wednesday evening against the Sounders if they hope to return the U.S. Open Cup to Kansas City. Championship-caliber teams need to be scoring at least two goals a match. It’s hard to win consistently with an offense that only produces a goal a match more often than not.

    • Matthew Donnelly says:

      Agreed. It was refreshing to see Teal finally capitalize on a clear chance.

      So far Sporting’s defense has carried them to the top of the East, but if a few attacking players can find their form in front of net it will open up so many more options. KC looked as predictable as ever against New England – they need an attacker that the opposition is forced to respect (other than Kei).

  2. the dude says:

    The Honduras game had a card happy ref controlling the game and Brazil’s goalie looked horribly shaky.

    The New England game showed the glaring hole in our offense.

  3. George Wilson says:

    Matt, any comment on Sporting averaging less than a goal a game in MLS for the past three months but bringing in only a center half and a holding midfielder for the stretch run?

    • Matt says:

      No team ever stops looking for goal scorers. The more the merrier.

      That being said, I think what’s holding them back from getting a real dangerous striker is just money. And it’s somewhat understandable. I mean, they’ve been able to stay on top of the East all season with no DP. But their strategy is dangerous come playoff time. If they get 2 goals down in a must-win game the chances of a come back seem worse for KC than most other teams.

      It’s just cross cross cross cross….

      • George Wilson says:

        I would think money shouldn’t be an issue. They are selling out virtually every league game yet have the third lowest payroll in MLS. Sixth in attendance and 17th in payroll with a gaping flaw in their offense. Bad combination.

        These owners get a lot of kudos for being aggressive and wanting to win. I’m starting to doubt it. They likely need one quality offensive guy to move them ahead of the pack of legitimate contenders yet they haven’t done it. And it’s not like baseball where impact level players cost eight figures a year.

        As strong as the crowds are now, I wonder what will happen once the momentum from the original stadium buzz wears off if Sporting continues to play unattractive football. I am not sure the fan base is that solid that it will continue to remain strong without a more entertaining team. I wonder if ownership is missing an opportunity right now to solidify that fan base.

  4. legendaryhog says:

    I dunno about the money thing. That stadium wasn’t cheap and they are making money hand over fist right now. I don’t see the owners springing for a DP this season. Also, Sporting is already selling season tickets for next year. If you have a members stand ticket and don’t renew in the next couple of weeks for next year, you lose your spot and are unlikely to get another members stand ticket as they are all season ticket holders this year. As long as they hold onto a couple of favorites and keep out of last place they will be fine.

    As far as Rodger heading across the pond, I don’t think so. One great game doesn’t do that for a guy. I like him as a player and he has a great motor, but really, he is most effective because he’s a hustle guy and a worker. He’s not a scoring threat in the MLS (zero goals this season), let alone the EPL, and he’s not even the fourth best assist man on the team (2 assists this year). Remember, even against Brazil, the Olympic team is not the same as the actual National team. No way he is remotely effective against Brazil’s national team midfield. Sure it’d be nice to play in Europe, but I’m not seeing it. Be a star in MLS and maybe you have a chance, until then, stay down Rodger.

  5. Matthew Donnelly says:

    I think maybe I didn’t explain myself very well. I’m not saying Sporting is cheap. What I’m saying is that they’re very careful with spending their money and Itgeywanna get a good player in a long term deal as opposed to another Omar Bravo situation.

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