Donnelly: Sporting Slug Out Scoreless Draw in Houston

“It was definitely not a pretty game for either team,” said Sporting
KC
boss Peter Vermes after his squad played a knock down, drag out scoreless draw at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.  “It was an absolute battle. It’s good to get out with no goals scored against. We know what the return match will be. It’ll be the final because it’s the last game for both teams.”

Unfortunately, that last game of the eastern Conference finals won’t be for almost another two weeks, on November 23rd.  And this game was a mere 3 days after Sporting went to overtime against New England to advance.

What the hell MLS?

“There is no momentum anymore,” continued Vermes.  “The good thing is that we get a good rest. It may be too long but we’ll have to manage it.”

KC came out fighting, but were on the back foot almost immediately, and that trend would continue more or less for the entire match.  Sporting captain Jimmy Nielsen came up huge with some big saves, particularly on one set piece in the first half that looked like it was curling inside the post.

And KC should have gotten on the board in the 14th minute when Graham Zusi beat a man, slicing into the box to lay off a perfect ball to the penalty spot.  But Jacob Peterson‘s effort wasn’t good enough, and he scuffed the one time shot weakly wide of the target.

Zusi wasn’t quite as locked in as he was against New England earlier in the week, but he still created some opportunities for his teammates and wreaked havoc with the Houston defense.  Late in the game he seemed to wear down a bit and gave a couple balls away, but that could just be fatigue after running over 14 miles against the Revolution.

“It was a grind,” confirmed Matt Besler.  “We knew it was going to be a battle and that both teams were fatigued coming into the game. Because of that I don’t think it was the prettiest of soccer games, but at this time of year that doesn’t matter to us.”

Indeed, this was one of the most physical games I’ve seen in MLS in a long time.  But KC played it off, almost daring teams to try and match their aggressive play.

“I’m good,”reported KC enforcer Aurelien Collin.  “A beat of the nose, the back of the head, the side of the head. When I come to Houston it’s always like that so I’m used to it.”

A 0-0 result at Houston, with a return leg in the friendly confines of Sporting Park is certainly not a bad thing for KC.  I would put them up against anyone in the league in one game in KCK.

“The reason the higher seed gets the second leg at home is for situations like this,” continued Besler.  “The away team in the first leg can get a result like that and now we get to come home and play in front of fans for the last 90 minutes and hopefully get the win.”

It’s going to be nuts out there folks, and tickets for the match sold out in a matter of minutes.  Sporting has released a limited number of standing room tickets so act now if you still want in.

 

 

 

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5 Responses to Donnelly: Sporting Slug Out Scoreless Draw in Houston

  1. Mysterious J says:

    I guess Vermes guarantee of entertainment only applies at home, right? Obviously a decent result for SKC. I seriously don’t understand what Bunbury is bringing to the table.

  2. the dude says:

    More horrible scheduling by the mls.

  3. legendaryhog says:

    The scheduling is to accommodate the USMNT November schedule so Klinsmann can call up whatever MLS players he wants for friendlies in Scotland and Austria. The real “problem” is that MLS does not follow the most common “European” soccer schedule that is table-based and does not use a playoff system. Essentially, the rest of the world is simply deciding their league winners by total ending points and does not have a seeded and bracketed playoff system. Therefore, the MLS schedule comes into conflict with FIFA international competitions and friendlies, because FIFA is scheduling them in accordance with the European model soccer calendar that most of the world follows. As well, the MLS season does not stop and start in the same months as the European system, nor does it include a mid-season break.

    There has been some talk of changing MLS to the European model, however, I don’t know if they can afford to do it. During most of the summertime, MLS only has to compete with MLB games, as NBA, NHL, and NFL are all on break. This probably gives MLS some more sports fans in the summertime, as they may follow other leagues if they were going on concurrently.

    That was one rough game. Dudes were getting crushed left and right. I guess we can say that the referee was consistent in that he didn’t call anything, but is that the game anyone wants to watch? MLS needs to take a cue from the Premiership and call contact fouls. Hell, even college basketball is taking a cue from the NBA and calling hand-checking this year. Less contact equals more scoring. These super physical games affect the “skill” players, the fun-to-watch players. It doesn’t matter if a guy has great ball skills if he can get hacked or pulled off the ball without the whistle being blown. I’m not saying that MLS should take all the defense out of the game, but unless it is a crushing foul, the whistle doesn’t get blown. It is so much easier for less skilled players to affect the game with thuggish play. Boring.

    Peterson should have finished that goal. Not a very good strike. It looked like that Houston goal was not offside to me….I don’t know if the replay showed different, but that could have been bad news for Sporting.

    • Mysterious J says:

      Changing to a more conventional soccer schedule would mean taking a LONG winter break (from mid December until late February?), then going head-to-head with the NBA and NHL post seasons and baseball in May/June. My solution is to cut the regular season down to 28 games, start a week or two earlier, eliminate the 4/5 play-in game, then have all of the post-season games on weekends.

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