Dejection - a feeling know be Sporting KC fans and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen alike, following Saturday's 3-2 loss to New England Revolution.
Another 3-2 game, another loss, another red card, another bad day for the defense, another frustrating game for Sporting Kansas City fans.
Gillette Stadium has been a very good place for Kansas City throughout their history, but it apparently wasn't meant to be on another rainy Saturday. While Sporting looked like they could be on their way out with all three points after a dubious penalty kick awarded by referee Jurisevic, a quick equalizer and later dubious red card later allowed New England the opportunity to score a dramatic winner in the 83rd minute.
Aurelien Collin started and played his first game for Sporting Kansas City after a last minute transfer deal was completed - an important replacement for Julio Cesar Santos who was suspended for this game due to a red card he had picked up in Columbus. Despite not being substituted out, he was unable to log 90 minutes due to a red card given to him after a hard challenge with Revolution keeper Matt Reis, though chances are that it was the activity after the challenge that got Collin sent off - some sort of incident between Collin and Benny Feilhaber resulted in Feilhaber on the ground and the ref going to his pocket.
Momentum firmly on their side, the New England Revolution only took 8 minutes more to score the eventual winner, and all of Kansas City's last efforts came up short for a two game losing streak and no wins since the opening match against Chivas USA.
Not all of this game was doom-and-gloom, however. The return of Ryan Smith was a very positive sight for Sporting Kansas City fans, and Collin looked like he was going to do well in Kansas City if he can keep his head and become more acclimated to the league.
Ryan Smith was the player most Sporting Kansas City fans hoped he would be upon his return - with one particularly smooth move which made many Revolution players look downright silly. Sporting fans can only wonder how the team would be doing if they had had his services from the beginning of the season instead of just starting to get him back now. Combine his skills with those of Omar Bravo, who is out due to injury himself, with an already electric combination of Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong and things get downright scary for opposing defenses. I would also say that I thought Stojcev looked much better on the day, Graham Zusi looked very decent in his replacement of Stojcev and Arnaud had some nice moments as well.
As for Collin - I tend to be an optimist, so I simply hope that he learns a bit about MLS through this game. He ought to have a much better picture of what he can and can't get away with and hopefully will make the adjustments needed. While his red card itself was very questionable, at least in my opinion, it's also fair to say that he very much could have been sent off for a second, deserved yellow earlier. Still, he did decently with the time he had out there - neither goal could really be considered his fault. When he is back in action in two weeks (baring any additional suspension, which I hope will not happen), I will be excited to see him pairing up with Besler again.
Anyway - was it a great game put in by Sporting Kansas City? No, of course not... but while I'm sure that many fans will be pushing the panic button, I hold a particular amount of optimism and hope for this team... particularly when it is finally at full strength (which we have not been yet) and playing some home games in front of 18 thousand cheering fans. We all knew this would be a rough road trip, and I haven't given up on it yet either, but, as long as the team doesn't lose its confidence, the MLS season is a long one and there are plenty of games left to play.