On the plus side, Sporting Kansas City won their CONCACAF Champions League group on Wednesday, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 0-0 draw to Honduran side CD Olimpia. That’s really about the only thing on the plus side.
In the other column is the fact that Sporting failed to win either of their Champions League games at home, and put together a truly lackluster performance on Wednesday that featured a severe lack of confidence, cohesion, and the inability to finish quality chances.
Teal Bunbury muffed a point blank header off his shoulder that would’ve been a goal 95% of the time, and collided with his own teammates on several different occasions. Dom Dwyer fired a shot right at the opposing keeper on a breakaway in the final minutes. Lawrence Olum was a ghost for basically the entire game. Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers contributed little to nothing going forward. Aurelien Collin‘s touch was horrendous as he settled for simply booming balls into the visitor’s end.
Even though KC – wait for it – dominated statistically, they looked inept in all aspects other than keeping Olimpia off the scoreboard. OK, technically the boys in blue should have notched a goal in the second half, when Graham Zusi buried a bouncing ball from point blank range. But the goal was called back due to some phantom push on Zusi that replays showed was incidental contact at the most.
“I’m still trying to understand on the goal that we score what the actual call was,” wondered KC boss Peter Vermes afterwards. “But in the end, we needed to win or tie the game for us to advance.”
There are too many KC players that simply are not comfortable doing anything under pressure (and sometimes when they’re not even really under pressure), other than passing the ball backwards, oftentimes all the way back to the White Puma Jimmy Nielsen. I’m looking at you Teal, Olum, CJ Sapong, Chance, Seth, and Jacob Peterson.
That’s more than half the starting lineup, and all of the front line.
Which makes it tough for the more skilled and nuanced guys like Uri, Zusi, and Matt Besler to get much going. And it didn’t help that Olimpia was muddying up the game, diving like Central Americans, and getting chippy at times.
But a result is a result, right? And KC is now through to the next round for a chance to do what no American team ever has – win the Champions League and go on to the FIFA Club World Cup.
“I thought for us, we dealt with them very well,” said Vermes. “We weren’t lying on the ground every time we got touched, those are the things that I have a big problem with and I think it’s a lack of respect for the game and you never see our players doing that.”
Next up for Sporting is a huge game back in MLS play this weekend at Philly. KC can win the Supporter’s Shield with a win and either a draw or loss from the New York Red Bulls.