KANSAS CITY, KS - AUGUST 21: Kei Kamara #23 of Sporting Kansas City is congratulated by teammates after scoring a first-half goal against D.C. United during an MLS match on August 21, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
Sporting Kansas City extended their perfect early season record to 3 and 0 with a 2-1 win over FC Dallas last night at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting KC relied on two goals late in each half from Aurelien Collin and Kei Kamara to secure the win that has now pushed them all the way to the top of the standings in both the Eastern Conference and the MLS with a staggering 9 points from just 3 games. The only other time Sporting has fared so well in the opening 3 games was back in 2006.
Unlike 2006 however this team is probably the hottest club in MLS right now. That's not to say that last night was Sporting KC's best performance that we'll see all year but it still left most of the crowd going home pleased. The only thing fans had to complain about was how Sporting KC was so stretched in the first half. They didn't look like their normal selves but getting a late goal from Collin before half helped them get back on their feet in no time. Good teams find a way to win and if this is how bad Sporting KC can play on a relatively "off day" imagine how they will play on full form.
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Like I said before Sporting KC started the half with some pretty shoddy defending that stretched their team out far too wide. The managed to regain some control but ultimately it was FC Dallas who scored first. The goal came in the middle part of the first half from a Ricardo Villar free-kick that curled over the heads of CJ Sapong and Kei Kamara. Matt Besler had previously been positioned on the front post where the ball eventually found the net, if he had stayed there Sporting KC may not have conceded. But it's important to note that Matt Besler should not be held solely accountable for that goal, if you look at the replay both Kei Kamara and CJ Sapong didn't jump at all. See for yourself here:
The next goal came in stoppage time off yet another Graham Zusi free kick. The American curled the ball in perfectly towards Aurelien Collin who had lost his mark and easily nicked the ball in with the back of his head. (I was in mid-burger when this happened and let's just say the guy in front of me was lucky to not have half-eaten meat strewing down his back). Nevertheless the Frenchman secured his 4th goal in league play for Sporting KC and sent them in to the half with momentum.
Sporting KC did indeed carry that momentum into the second half and started to look like the team we know and love. Guys were making runs off the ball and the passes were ever so crisp and tidy. That same passing eventually saw them score in the 88th minute after some absolutely beatiful combination play from Kamara, Myers and Zusi. It was Myers who did get the final pass in however before Kei Kamara slid home Sporting KC's 2nd of the night and it was almost safe to say that Sporting KC had secured all three points at this point.
With the points in the bag Sporting KC made two substitutions to slow the game down. Lawrence Olum - a personal favorite of mine - and Jacob Peterson were brought on for the departing Graham Zusi and Bobby Convey. The match ended and Sporting KC's dominance became clear in the post match stats with a 60/40 possession ratio to FC Dallas. Sporting KC also took 18 shots in all as compared to FC Dallas' 8 and had a 76% pass completion rate while Dallas maintained just a 63%.
Jimmy Nielsen - 6
An average game for Nielsen, he didn't record a single save but his leadership was as good as ever.
Seth Sinovic - 7
Seth played well and made some good runs forward with Bobby Convey but dived in sometimes and gave away unnecessary free kicks.
Aurelien Collin - 7.5
The Frenchman scored an extremely important goal for SKC late on in the first half and managed to keep Blas Perez at bay. When he wasn't on the ground of course.
Matt Besler - 7
Matt has been one of our most consistent players this season, he doesn't seem to get in the kind of high-profile incidents that Collin does but is an extremely hard worker and will do just about anything for his club.
Chance Myers - 8 - Man of the Match
Myers was one of KC's best players, his insane hustle on the last goal was one of the only reasons SKC scored - that and terrible positioning from Kevin Hartman.
Graham Zusi - 7
Some of his passes went astray and his corners couldn't get past the first man but he still had something to do with both of SKC's goals.
Julio Cesar - 6
Julio played an average game at the defensive mid role and communicated well with the back four but mistimed some tackles.
Roger Espinoza - 7
The Honduran had plenty of runs forward and helped spread SKC's attack from one side of the field to the other.
Kei Kamara - 7
Let's be honest here, he missed arguably Sporting's best chances and even missed one from the penalty spot. He looked frustrated all night with shots and headers glaring wide - some worse than others. Yet, he did score the winning goal and for that we thank you.
CJ Sapong - 6
It was hard to really think of any plays CJ was involved in and he looked like a ghost out there at times. Maybe the chances just didn't fall his way...
Bobby Convey - 6
After a terrific game last week Bobby had a average one last night. He missed a handful of key passes and some of his touches were off. But most importantly he seems to not have a right foot, at this level that simply won't do.
Subs N/R, both Lawrence Olum and Jacob Peterson only played for one minute.