Donnelly: Sporting Back Atop East With Soggy Win at Toronto FC

“It was a straight battle. It wasn’t technical, it was wet, muddy, it was just a game that tested heart and spirit.”

That was CJ Sapong – who netted both KC goals – after a scrappy 2-1 Sporting KC win over Toronto FC.

The game really could have gone either way, with both squads failing to capitalize on their ample chances throughout the afternoon.

KC struck first, with a nice combo play that saw Graham Zusi play a long cross over everyone to Dom Dwyer, who nodded the ball back towards the spot where Sapong was wide open for the simple header. 

But Toronto capitalized on an Aurelien Collin giveaway in the back to even things up before halftime.

Sapong, though, kept working and put his head on another cross into the box, beating his defender easily to the ball for the point blank winner.

Toronto had its chances, too.  But they didn’t do themselves any favors in the last 15 minutes, melting down with a defender sent off for a bad tackle, and two coaches ejected for verbal abuse of the referees.

And the refs were terrible – which is nothing new.  But with the drenched field and the lack of any control over the game, they created a rather dangerous atmosphere for the players by being wildly inconsistent, showing cards on some normal fouls, and swallowing the whistle on other aggressive plays that warranted more than just a free kick.

And that’s really all Toronto wanted to talk about afterwards.

“I think it was the linesmen,” answered Toronto boss Ryan Nelsen when asked what he was ejected for.  “He was under a bit of pressure, the crowd was on him.  He had made some obvious errors.  He was just under a bit of pressure.”

I love the fake compassion that Nelsen spewed, minutes after audio caught him just tearing into the linesman, dropping f-bombs right and left toward the end of the game.

“(L)ook at their goal,” Nelsen awesomely continued.  “It was even softer than our two. The ball comes in, our guys about to score and it hits the guy’s hand.   It’s a (blatant) penalty and it’s a goal.”

Nelson was just getting warmed up:

“When Justin Braun‘s about to hit the ball, Aurelien Collin isn’t even looking at the ball and grabs him and throws him over the end line.  That’s another goal and we would have won the game.  They’re just errors, they’re soft errors, they’re soft goals, but I should be talking about having two penalties, two clear penalties, stone cold penalties and we would have won the game and their coach is talking about the soft goals that we gave up.”

Like CJ said, it wasn’t pretty, and KC was more than a little lucky – I mean, Sporting’s back line cleared at least two balls off its own endline in the final minutes.

But in the end, it was a huge win for a team that’s still in the hunt for the top billing in the Eastern Conference.

“I think we got a favorable result with Montreal losing today,” said KC defender Seth Sinovic.  “So it’s kind of a three team race to the top right now and we’ve been on a little bit of a run so hopefully we can keep that going.”
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7 Responses to Donnelly: Sporting Back Atop East With Soggy Win at Toronto FC

  1. Rick Nichols says:

    At this point in the season a win is a win is a win, even if it was something of an ugly one. The playoffs seem likely and a rematch with Houston is certainly possible, so the lads really need to elevate their game here in the home stretch.

  2. the dude says:

    Caldwell was lucky he wasn’t ejected when he football tackled him in the penalty box and then stood over him and cradled(!?!) his head and pulled him up! Sapong would have had a chance at the hatter if they made the proper PK call. I would have nut punched him at that point if I was Sapong. CJ is starting to have those flashes of brilliance again, let’s see more.

    Rain games are always crazy, you don’t know what to expect.

  3. Mysterious J says:

    As I have said before, this league is trying to be WWE: horrible refs and manufactured story lines.

    • Wanted: exciting soccer says:

      and just about as exciting unless you’re eight years old.

      • Mysterious J says:

        Well taste is subjective. I have been critical of the product on the field for the past several years, but the fact is that I have seen more interesting MLS matches on TV (not all or even mostly SKC) in the last several months than ever.

  4. legendaryhog says:

    Well, what can you say about this one? It was a sloppy, sloppy game on all parties account. The game was played in the rain, which was a downpour at times and made the field a mess, SKC looked pretty damn horrible, and Toronto just is horrible. It really doesn’t matter if the weather is shit for them, they are just plain bad.

    A win is a win, but SKC’s goals were easily preventable by an average defense. The first goal had Dwyer unmarked almost on the six. How do you let a striker get that deep into the box when the ball is at the half line? The second, Sapong simply stepped in front of his defender, unacceptable defense. If you are defending a ball in the air, the ball is coming toward you, and you have the best look at it. You step forward and meet the ball, not wait for it to come to you. SKC’s defenders constantly win balls in the air that way. Piss poor defense on Toronto’s part.

    Not to take anything away from CJ’s goals. They were good finishes, but their ease just illustrates how horrendous Toronto’s defense was.

    The officiating was one of the worst performances yet this year. This is the single biggest obstacle that MLS has to overcome. The game has to be consistent. The league needs to decide what kind of soccer they are going to promote, and dictate that their referees abide by that style of play. If the MLS wants to be a physical league, fine, don’t call touch fouls. In my opinion, if they want to promote a more exciting brand of play, the extreme physical play has to go. Players get mugged on the way to the goal because defenses know they can get away with it and red cards are rare. Less physical play equates to more goals and more goals are what the fans want.

    Lastly, lets talk Aurelien Collin. I’ve said this before, it is time to consider trading away Collin while he still has value. He has been a fan favorite, he is great in the air, and he has been an All-star the last two years (probably undeservedly). He is a very good defender for this league and has been good for about three goals per year, not bad for a center defender. However, he has not been as effective as of late, and has made several crucial errors that have resulted in easy opposition goals this season. Additionally, his lack of quickness and speed are starting to catch up with him. Opponents are playing diagonal through balls behind him and having an attacker run onto the ball because they know they can take him in a footrace every time. Essentially, he is being exploited because of he’s too slow. Add to that an inability to really contribute offensively other than on set pieces and you have a player in decline.

    I am a Collin fan and have enjoyed watching him play. He is a beast and I love to see a center enforcer go head to head with a physical attacker and eat their lunch. However, with Ike Opara coming into his own, I believe that SKC will be better off with a Opara/Besler combination in the future. Opara is almost as good as Collin in the air, a quicker defender, and a better distributor of the ball out of the backfield than Collin is. I can think of several teams that have need at central defender and would be happy to give value for a veteran All-star like Collin. As SKC has need at attacking midfielder and striker with the loss of Kamara, this may be the time to make a decision to put Collin on the market.

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