Donnelly: Sporting Draw at Houston With Depleted Squad

Still battling for the Supporter’s Shield, Sporting KC took to the road Wednesday night for a match up with the Houston Dynamo, a team that has been KC’s kryptonite the last few seasons.

And as has been the case lately, the game was an ugly one, with little fluidity.  In the end, though, KC wasn’t too unhappy taking the 0-0 draw and earning a point on the road, even though a win would have clinched a playoff spot.

KC’s lineup was altered due to Matt Besler and Graham Zusi being called up for national team duty at Sporting Park this Friday against Jamaica, so Lawrence Olum and Ike Opara got the starts instead.  Which did not sit well with White Puma Jimmy Nielsen, who blamed MLS for his squad’s second-tier lineup.

“I think it’s completely ridiculous that there is a game today when the US men’s national team are playing,” stated Nielsen.  “The team should be able to play their best players and the fans should be able to see the best players. It feels like an amateur league when they set up stuff like that. It’s very, very unprofessional and I’m really disappointed.”

Most leagues around the world take the week off during international play.

“They’ve got to get a better schedule,” Nielson continued.  “We are losing two of our best players for a huge game. We were fighting the whole season to get into the playoffs and with three games left we are missing our two best players because of a national team game. I think it’s ridiculous there’s a game today. I’m very upset about it, it’s very disappointing.”

Despite the Puma’s disappointment, he had one of his better games, denying Houston striker Will Bruin twice early on with a nice kick save, and then a sprawling save, both of which were from close range.

A few minutes later Corey Ashe lashed a swooping 35 yarder that required a touch over the bar from Nielsen.

“Nielsen played out of his mind,” commented Bruin afterwards.  “He got them a point in my mind and I give credit to him for making big saves and when he needed to, he kept them in the game.”

Despite Houston’s early onslaught, KC should have taken the lead midway through the first half when the ball found Dom Dwyer with some space in front of the opposition’s goal.  He pivoted and struck the bouncing ball but couldn’t get over it enough and sent it into the stands.

Right before halftime, Houston almost took the lead off a Brad Davis free kick.  But Aurelien Collin retreated to the goal line at the last second and headed the curling attempt clear.

The second half saw both teams struggle to create many real chances, and as the game wore on it seemed like a draw was inevitable.  KC wasn’t bunkering per se, but they weren’t risking much either, and the game devolved into a midfield battle.

“The game was congested because of the environment,” said KC boss Peter Vermes.  “It was a battle. It’s never easy at the end of a season like this when teams are trying to get points and chasing it. Credit to both teams, I think both of us tried to pull something out.”

With just three games remaining, KC sits at 52 points, one back of New York, and even with Salt Lake who sit atop the Western Conference.  Despite their ups and downs this season, Sporting Kansas City is right in the thick of the race for the Supporter’s Shield.

Although some fans might prefer a lower seed for KC, given their home form this season.

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5 Responses to Donnelly: Sporting Draw at Houston With Depleted Squad

  1. Hot Carl says:

    I know Zusi was out and that really hampers our offense but we look completely disjointed at that end of the field. Saad, Dwyer, Sapong and Bunbury didn’t do a damn thing last night. Somebody out of that group has got to step up and be consistently threatening.

    • the dude says:

      Well, if Houston did not hire a bunch of paid muggers at midfield and defense Sporting might have scored a goal or two. I don’t know how they get away with the kind of play they are known for but oh well.

      I forget the name of the head ref last night but that guy was absuloutely horrible. Totally blowing calls and then pulling yellows for the slightest of offenses. That ref sucks, MLS needs to red card him.

  2. legendaryhog says:

    Horrible. Unwatchable. Just, horrible, horrible play. I don’t think there was one positive thing to say about this shit-show. Even coming away with a point felt like a loss. I felt like I was watching two high school teams play each other. Seriously…I have nothing positive to say. At least no one got injured I guess.

    Bieler? Bieler? Bieler? Anyone? Seriously, this is Omar Bravo all over again. Is he not red-ass enough for you Vermes? Why bench your best forward?

    Also, it looks like there will be no Collin trade. With all the Besler call-ups to the USMNT there isn’t anyone else to play backup who is worth a damn.

    Get it together Sporting. Good thing the rest of the East is playing like shit too.

  3. Mysterious J says:

    I think it would be easier to only mention when we see GOOD officiating in this league, last night was as bad as I have to come to expect.

    Puma stole the point last night for SKC.

    • Matthew Donnelly says:

      Yep, the refs just are not nuanced in any way. Take for example the yellow that Collin picked up. It was obvious that the Houston player dragged his foot to make contact with the Frenchman as he slid through, when he could have avoided contact altogether by just hopping over him and probably could have stayed on the ball.

      Great game for Puma, and I also like that he seems to have put his disgusting tongue away lately, I’m assuming at the request of parents with little kids who would cry when they saw it.

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