Fresh off the announcement that Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, and Aurelien Collin had been named to the starting 11 for the MLS All-Star Game, Sporting Kansas City picked up a much needed win in steamy Chicago.
And all three of them had good days on the pitch. Zusi picked up a curling goal in the 7th minute, on what looked at first to be a cross. But the ball bent and bent, and Kei Kamara provided just enough of a distraction to the Chicago keeper, allowing the lob to find the side netting.
“I’m not sure if he was crossing it or shooting it, but it went into the back of the net and we need to get those sometimes,” explained KC boss Peter Vermes afterwards.
“It was a cross,” admitted Zusi.
A couple minutes before that, Benny Feilhaber hit a bouncing ball that squirted out from a long Besler throw in and hammered it off the post to give KC the early lead.
So things were looking good just 10 minutes in, with the visitors on top 2-0. But the Chicago Fire were not about to lay down.
For the rest of the first half, they took the momentum and dominated. Their spirit paid off in the 38th minute when MVP candidate Mike Magee broke through and calmly slotted the 1 v 1 into the near corner, easily beating Jimmy Nielsen, who was forced to eventually guess.
For a time it seemed that going down 2-0 early had rattled Chicago’s cage – that is, until the second half started and the Fire were as flat as they were at the opening whistle. They looked tired and content to drop back, almost conceding possession to Sporting.
“I wish I knew why [we had such a small time of possession],” lamented Magee, who was also selected to the all-star squad. “I think we felt the game was tied or we were winning, we were just going to sit back and be content. Unfortunately we were down 2-1, so it wasn’t a very good game plan.”
“[A]ll I’m thinking about is how badly this loss feels at home in front of our biggest crowd that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he continued. “We literally laid down.”
Well, not literally, but you get the picture.
And speaking of laying down, Kei Kamara was at it again, doing his best “I-should-be-in-the-EPL” act, while his teammates hustled and scrapped for every loose ball. Multiple times he gave half-hearted efforts when balls were delivered to him in what he perceived to be a less than perfect position. Kamara’s body language said it all, especially after one instance in the first half in which the television cameras honed in on Vermes giving the disgruntled striker an absolute earful.
I have to wonder if Kei’s days are numbered with other strikers like Soony Saad and Dom Dwyer emerging as viable options.
As the pace of the game ground to a halt, Chicago was unable to muster much, and KC held on for a much needed win. They currently sit at 30 points, just one shy of Eastern Conference leaders Montreal Impact.