In its first game since the return of US stars Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, Sporting KC took on the Chicago Fire at hot and humid Sporting Park Sunday afternoon. Both players are reportedly entertaining offers from clubs around the world after their strong performances in Brazil. KC will be lucky to keep them.
“Besler and Zusi both have some decisions to make regarding whether they leave or not, but it won’t be an easy one,” remarked Benny Feilhaber after the 1-1 draw. “Sometimes opting to go elsewhere is something you have to do develop your football career, but it’s never an easy decision when you’re leaving a place you really love. They’ll take their time with the decision, and if they decide to stay, we’re going to be thankful.”
But Dom Dwyer‘s goal celebration in the first half nearly overshadowed the homecoming party. More on that in a sec.
Sporting started on the defensive, nearly giving away a goal in the first minute or two off a sloppy pass across the back from Kevin Ellis that was easily picked off by last year’s MLS MVP, Mike Magee. Magee beat KC keeper Eric Kronberg but luckily Aurelien Collin was able to track back in time and clear the ball off the line.
A bit shaky starting out, to say the least.
Sporting was visibly frustrated with each other for much of the match. Vermes could be seen yelling at people and gesturing angrily. Collin got on the young Igor Juliao so hard, that at one point Igor stopped playing and turned to yell back at the Frenchman. Just disjointed.
Maybe it was the heat.
“It was stupidly hot,” said Dwyer after the game. “A 2 p.m. game is not fun with that weather. I understand it’s TV time, but those were very tough conditions. It was bad at the end there, I was cramping up. But that’s part of football.”
In the 33rd minute KC got on the board following a bad giveaway in the back by a Chicago defender. Dwyer scooped it up and waltzed in for an easy side footer. But it was what he did afterward that everyone was talking about. Dwyer grabbed a cameraman’s cellphone and took a couple selfies with his best bud, Soony Saad. Total Dom. And he got a yellow card for it.
“(The celebration) was set up,” explained Dwyer, now second in MLS with 12 goals. “It was mentioned earlier today before the game, and it sounded like quite a cool idea. It was a good bit of fun, but I got a yellow (card) for it. I was lucky I didn’t get another yellow, or else I would have been in big trouble.”
Chicago knotted it up a few minutes later when Seth Sinovic sloppily gave it away in the back. Magee collected a little slip through on the 18 and easily finished the chance past Kronberg, who was forced to come off his line.
Midway through the second half, the biggest cheer of the night erupted from the 20,000+ crowd when Graham Zusi came on for Soony Saad.
And right off the bat Zusi made the game more entertaining, first winning a corner that the Chicago keeper had to save, then sending in a low cross that a Chicago defender was forced to clear over his own endline.
It wasn’t enough in the end, as the teams settled for a point apiece.
“I like to think that in the second half we made some really, really good opportunities at goal,” said KC boss Peter Vermes. “We had some really good chances (where) we should have scored a second goal, no doubt in my mind. We just didn’t have enough people in the box. I do think that these games, when you play at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, in this kind of weather…it makes for a tough game for both teams. And I think it changes the way the game is played.”