You know it’s a big game when Marlon Wayans is in the house…
Wayans was in town to promote his new movie Haunted House 2. Unfortunately, Sporting Kansas City couldn’t harness that Wayans energy for most of the game, providing the sold out home opener crowd with some unflattering play until the last few minutes of the game. That’s when Sporting finally got on the board via an Aurelien Collin header off a corner.
But just like last week at Seattle, the boys in blue couldn’t hold on. Dallas earned a free kick in the 90th minute about 25 yards out and played a curling ball toward the back post where an unmarked Matt Hedges finished the play. If Hedges hadn’t gotten to the ball, there were at least two other Dallas players right with him that could have made a play on it.
“It’s unacceptable and it’s not who we are,” remarked an obviously pissed Peter Vermes afterwards. “I’m not happy and the guys know it. It’s not who we are.”
To be fair, early in the game Sporting had the better of the chances. Sal Zizzo -one of the new acquisitions- got in behind on a bouncing ball around the 3rd minute, and played the ball across the goal mouth to an onrushing CJ Sapong, whose effort was blocked from point blank range.
A few more half chances followed, and it was pretty clear that KC was the superior team by leaps and bounds. That, and they weren’t even playing their conventional #1 lineup. Jimmy Medranda made his first start in place of Paulo Nagamura. Mechak Jerome filled in on right defense. Graham Zusi wasn’t even on the bench.
Thirty minutes in, Dallas had not mustered a shot or earned a corner.
But the pace of the game was still allegro. It was certain we’d see a few subs in the second frame.
When halftime came, the game had ground down to an unflattering halt, balls pinging from one end to the other with players looking tired and a bit slow. Things had become overly physical, and the ref’s inaction was adding fuel to the tire fire that was this season opener.
The ref may have gotten worse in the second half. Not infrequently he’d blow the whistle for what looked like a sure foul for one team, only to inexplicably point the other direction. It got a bit baffling.
Also baffling was Vermes allowing Benny Feilhaber to stay in the game. Time and again, Benny kept the ball too long, or made a dangerous pass, or went in for an unnecessarily rash challenge only to be called for the foul, or knocked a corner kick about 15 yards too long over everyone. Without Zusi to even things out, Benny was killing the flow, and gesticulating like he expected better from his teammates. Kind of lame, especially for a middle of the road player at best.
Finally around the 80th minute Sporting mustered some life, after Claudio Bieler subbed in and newcomer Alex Martinez did as well, for his first appearance.
“I thought the second half, we were in and around their box way too many times to only score one goal,” said Vermes. “We should have scored more goals for sure. We were in and around their box and had great opportunities, but the final pass was not there.”
“It’s not one guy, it’s the whole team,” said Sporting captain Matt Besler. “Whoever is out there at the beginning of the game, in the middle of the game or the end of the game, every single person on the field, we need to be tuned in and helping out each other. Right now, at the end of the game, we are not locked in like we should be.”