“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.