“We dominated the game in all aspects,” said a frustrated Peter Vermes after his team lost 1-0 to the visiting Philadelphia Union. “At the end of the day, we had a lot of chances around the goal. We had a lot of looks and a lot of opportunities, but zero goals, which is the biggest thing.”
But before we get too far into the game, let’s talk a little bit about the playing surface at Sporting Park. I’ll cut to the chase – at this point the field is simply dangerous.
From the opening whistle, turf was just ripping up all over the place. Anytime a player made a hard cut they had a good chance of losing their balance and tearing out a huge divot. On nearly every goal kick, the keeper’s plant foot would rip up a chunk.
At one point in the second half during an injury stoppage, Vermes was 20 yards out on the field tamping down stray pieces of grass that were scattered all over the pitch.
This needs to be fixed now; especially with the added scrutiny of the USMNT coming to town in less than two weeks.
Early on in the match, KC was dictating things. But with Philly so content to sit back that wasn’t really a surprise. Most of the time the visitors were happy to simply pump the ball out of their defensive third with little to no intent going forward.
KC was just gunning, but after about 15 minutes they became a bit impatient and weren’t necessarily playing to their strengths. Graham Zusi was a ghost, and when he finally got a touch on the ball, I remembered that he was in the starting lineup.
KC should’ve gone up one in the 25th minute when Benny Feilhaber made a nice run up the middle but couldn’t finish from about 12 with the keeper coming out a little. He ended up side footing it right into Zac MacMath‘s arms.
As the half wore on, Zusi got more involved, causing KC to create more dangerous chances. A corner here, a shot from the top of the box there.
But as time went on and KC failed to score, Philly seemed to be gaining a little momentum, using Sporting’s aggression against them to find counters and space.
In the 36th minute, Ike Opara got BURNED down the right flank when a Philly winger touched the ball around the lanky defenseman, ran back onto it, and delivered a quality cross that bobbled inside the 6 yard box until Conor Casey finished with a volley from point blank range.
Sporting’s desperation was betraying them at a time when they didn’t need to press so hard in the first place.
The second half saw KC play a bit more within themselves, not risking so much and being much more patient. Early on they should’ve leveled when Chance Myers played a nice curling ball in behind that dropped at the far post. Dom Dwyer got a powerful head to it, but the effort went just wide.
By not rushing, but instead relaxing and taking what came to them, Sporting was playing much, much better ball than they did in the frenetic first half. But with Philly already up 1-0, and with a really good keeper to rely on, the visitors were able to bunker in and try to weather the aerial storm from KC.
“They didn’t get too many shots in the second half,” said Philly keeper MacMath afterwards. “The team had to just sit in and we knew they were just going to bomb balls into the box. The defense did really well to head balls away and keep it clear.”
“Our heart was there, and our determination was there,” said Vermes, “we just weren’t clinical around the goal.”