MLS Cup Rematch Leaves Things Level

Since the last post, Sporting Kansas City has had some up’s and down’s but those down’s seem to be as deep as the Mariana Trench.  After having a 1-0 lead against Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League, Sporting KC was, for lack of a better term, embarrassed in Mexico losing 5-1.  I’m not going to get into too much as to why I was upset about it because I’m sure every Sporting and MLS fan, owner, staff member and player were upset at the performances put in by the MLS Cup Champions.  Rest assured though that Robb Heineman isn’t in the soccer ownership business to get embarrassed so I highly doubt we’ll see a repeat of that under his watch.

Now after suffering their worst defeat since the Wizards days, Sporting KC has a few months to just focus on MLS and to do what they can to maximize points before having to deal with the likely loss of Graham Zusi and Matt Besler for the World Cup and playing in US Open Cup games.  With big wins against San Jose and Colorado, Sporting KC had a big game against a familiar foe.  Real Salt Lake was looking to avenge their loss in the MLS Cup Final last December by going back to Sporting Park and taking three points.  It obviously wouldn’t change the result of the Final but it would give a little solace to RSL’s players and fans.

The week started off with some “fireworks” due to some comments mostly by Dom Dwyer who said that he hates RSL very much.  Nat Borchers responded by saying that they don’t like KC as much as they don’t like us.  This kind of talk behind the scenes isn’t shocking especially when these two teams gave it all they had last year for a championship.  When both teams deserved to win in a game and one team can’t, there’s going to be friction.  The only problem I have is when someone like Dwyer talks like this and puts in a “performance” like that Saturday night and he still gets into a twitter argument with MLS legend, Nick Rimando, now it’s going on borderline embarrassing for anyone who is proud to put on anything with a Sporting KC crest.  I know Dwyer loves to troll the haters and they really do deserve it, but he’s got to show at least some restraint and self control and pick his battles or he’ll be the one looking bad and the haters will win.

Anyway, the game was the typical Sporting Kansas City affair and seemed like déjà vu for everyone.  Sporting peppered the outside of the net with lots of shots that seemed to go wide and shots that were on target were saved by backup goalkeeper, Jeff Attinella.  Real Salt Lake had only four shots and one on target but had the same conversion rate as SKC at 0%.  I forget how many times I have to say this but for all that Sporting does well, the one thing they can’t do is finish.  They can dominate in possession, fouls, passes, shots, corners, etc., but it doesn’t mean crap if they can’t finish and score.  And that has happened way too many times to a team as skilled as Sporting Kansas City.

One anomaly in the game was the straight red card given to Oriol Rosell in the 83rd minute for a rough challenge on Devon Sandoval.  It’s an anomaly because Sporting hadn’t conceded a red card since CJ Sapong in June 2013.  I know lots of people like to view Sporting as a “dirty” team and we could get in a lengthy debate as to why they are or aren’t, but in terms of getting red cards, Sporting is usually on the bottom half of the table in terms of red cards.  The tackle itself seemed like the right call though.  I thought it was debatable at first but the studs were up and something like that has been called in the past so it was the right call.

Sporting KC has a weekend break to think about what might have been and prepare for the next game against Montreal.  If history is any indication, one of Montreal’s coaches will get ejected and both teams will accuse the other of playing dirty.  It’s going to be a highly physical game, so don’t expect a lot of attractive football.  This is going to be one ugly game in one beautiful stadium.

About Phillip Bupp

Managing editor for 32 Flags, Contributor for Awful Announcing, Highlights Editor for MLS and freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Be sure to follow @phillipbupp, @32flags as well as @MLSTitleBelt, a project where the title holder must defend the title in every MLS game.