The month of May proved to be a horribly difficult month for Sporting Kansas City. Granted, in the first third of the month, SKC won their games against Columbus and Montreal but then things took a tremendous left turn.
With the news that Matt Besler and Graham Zusi would be joining the US Men’s National Team for the World Cup, it was very important for Sporting KC to get a win against the Philadelphia Union. Well one team showed up to play and it sure wasn’t the defending champions. Zac MacMath put in a man of the match performance making a couple point blank saves. Philadelphia put in a solid performance in the attack as well. Their first goal in the 48th minute wasn’t necessarily the most beautiful but was the best example of teamwork and never giving up on a ball. Leo Fernandes made a perfect chip to Andrew Wenger, who took a shot from a near impossible. But sometimes those shots still result in success because Eric Kronberg wasn’t able to keep the ball and Danny Cruz took it on and buried the rebound to take the lead. Even though Dom Dwyer put away a beautiful goal to equalize in the 70th, the Union took the lead before I could even boast on Twitter about Dwyer’s goal. Philly took the 2-1 win and then it got worse for the champs.
In between Philly and the game against the Chicago Fire, we learned that Aurelien Collin aggravated his hamstring injury so Sporting found itself without their two starting center backs. Well, Ike Opara had been injured and has been ruled out for the season so that’s the top three. Lawrence Olum was playing for Kenya in African Cup of Nations qualifying so that’s four. Make it five because Oriol Rosell was injured. Anyway, 17 year old Erik Palmer-Brown, started his first game as the only center back, having to go up against the reigning MVP of MLS Mike Magee. Needless to say, it didn’t go well for Palmer-Brown. He got a red card and helped cause a PK and Sporting lost 2-1. I’m not going to fault Erik Palmer-Brown. Sure it was a horrible debut but he was tasked with a near impossible task and was put under the kind of pressure as being the only center back that most professionals wouldn’t dare take on, much less a 17 year old. He’s going to have better days ahead.
The game against Toronto FC looked like would be the game where Sporting would lose in the beginning of the season. Yeah, Michael Bradley and Julio Cesar are off to the World Cup but that team was stacked with Jermaine Defoe. Despite SKC’s struggles at the lack of depth at center back, they took it to Toronto and even took the lead twice. The only issue was that Toronto equalized twice and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. This would be one of those games where both teams felt as if they gave up two points instead of winning one.
The New York Red Bulls game was very similar to Toronto. Both teams were disappointed to get just a point and Sporting Kansas City once again let in an equalizer and gave up a lead once again to make it a 1-1 draw. This was Sporting’s first game back without Chance Myers, who is out for the year after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in the Toronto game, and further increased Sporting’s injury woes. If these injuries keep up, I used to be a center back in my youth soccer days. SKC knows my phone number so I’m waiting to play. Already have the jerseys, just need to put on the number and name.
Sporting’s last game of the month took them to historic RFK Stadium to play DC United. DC United has seen its struggles but also its share of hot streaks. They went into this game with nothing to lose and gained a bunch of confidence after Aurelien Collin reinjured his hamstring for the third time this year in the 9th minute. Seriously, can one Sporting defender stay healthy, well two if you don’t count Sinovic. I hope I didn’t just jinx him now. DC took the lead from a Fabian Espindola goal and never looked back as they won 1-0. To hopefully get some bodies back on defense, Kevin Ellis was called back from loan at Oklahoma City. They’re going to need Ellis’ experience and work with Palmer-Brown in order to solidify the front of the goal. Let’s just hope neither of them gets hurt or who knows who gets to be the next center back.
All in all, the first ten days, Sporting KC got six of six points. Since then, they have won just 2 points of their last 15 possible. This is going to be Sporting’s most difficult time of the year but fans need to show patience in their team and know that it’s going to turn around once Besler and Zusi come back from the World Cup. I know it’s tough to keep the faith in the team but Sporting is still solidly in the playoff hunt and there will be about half the season left once the World Cup ends. Sporting will be doing just fine.