Sporting Kansas City should’ve walked out of abysmal RFK stadium with the full three points instead of splitting two with DC United.
KC created far better, and far more chances than the home squad, but got screwed by one of the worst offside calls I’ve ever seen. And that’s not hyperbole.
As Sporting’s attack built down the left flank, center back Matt Besler made an overlapping run, almost to the end line. He cut a ball back to somewhere around the penalty spot finding Jacob Peterson, who one-timed a low ball toward the far post. Ike Opara reacted first and stepped to the ball, tapping a side-footer into the back of the net.
Somehow, the flag went up, even though there were at least three DC players between Opara and the end line at the time the ball was played. A fourth (4th!!) defender was arguably even with Opara.
“It’s a big mistake,” KC boss Peter Vermes said afterwards. “It’s a major mistake. There’s at least three guys that keep him onside, right? I don’t know what (the assistant referee) is thinking then. I just don’t know.”
I don’t know either, but if it makes anyone feel any better, the assistant who botched the call admitted the mistake, saying, “I misjudged the play at the time the ball was kicked, leading me to believe the player was in an offside position.”
Way to man up, dude. Seriously, that ref should be fired. I get that people make mistakes, but there were four guys keeping Oparra onside!
Opara did get a bit of payback (I guess) in the second frame when he glanced a header off a DC defender and into the net. It was officially an own goal, but Ike didn’t mind taking the credit.
“Whatever, it went in,” Opara explained. “It hit me first. And then hit one of their guys, I guess, afterwards.”
But DC responded several minutes later to knot the score at 1-1 off a long cross from Chris Pontius that found a sliding Kyle Porter. Certainly, Pontius had far too much time on the ball to line that one up.
But more alarming than that defensive lapse was KC’s overall offensive predictability. Their play has become stagnant. They do not play a positive brand of soccer near as often as they should. So many times when a Sporting midfielder receives the ball from the back, there is no thought at all to turning – the default is to play the ball back or sideways.
The only real exception is Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber (at times).
Other than those two, the play is overwhelmingly negative. Sometimes, the receiving player has loads of space, but automatically drops it back instead of turning and possessing, then building forward. It’s gotten to the point that opposing teams actually overplay the back pass, since the tendency is so pronounced.
I’d like to see this addressed immediately.
Creativity and unpredictability are invaluable in this sport. For proof look no further than Zusi, a player who is not big or fast, but is shifty and of late, looks like he is dancing on the ball, turning defenders inside out.
Easier said than done? Of course. But it seems like Sporting needs a tweak in their mentality to get out of their same old, predictable rut.