(Photos from yesterday aren't out yet apparently, a close up of Bunbury will have to do)
Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury scored twice in the first half on Saturday night to help Sporting earn their first draw of the season away at the Colorado Rapids 2-2. Sporting KC let Colorado take the game into their own hands following Teal's two goals as Peter Vermes and co. sat back and let Colorado attack SKC's defense.
This move proved to be costly in the second half as Tyronne Marshall and Kosuke Kimura scored in the 52' and 60' minutes respectively. Both goals came from defenders and was ultimately due to individual mistakes in the back. While you always want to keep the goals scored on you at a premium it's good to know that neither of the goals came from intricate passing that broke down SKC's defense. Sporting kept their shape and the goals just came down to who wanted it more.
Sporting KC fans and players alike will be ruing the opportunity missed to grab all three precious away points however.
Peter Vermes started out the game with a starting XI that saw three changes from the side that lost to Chicago last week. Bunbury, Sinovic, and Nagamura all came into a side that looked like it needed some freshness, especially on the attacking end.
Two of those three changes combined just two minutes into the game as Seth Sinovic played a peach of a cross following a great passing sequence into Bunbury who finished the move off with an acrobatic diving header. Bunbury didn't celebrate, which isn't surprising when you think back and remember that Teal almost always celebrates by looking dead ahead while teammates jump around him - pretty lame, but a goal's a goal and Sporting would gladly take any type of celebration as long as it lead to the ending of the three game losing streak.
Just 12 minutes later Bunbury was at it again. Following a corner into the box that Colorado keeper Matt Pickens failed to clear(possibly due to pressure from Chance Myers) Bunbury found the ball falling towards his foot and before it even hit the ground he passed it into a wide open, goalkeeper-less net.
Sporting KC was in fact ahead at half time and looked to have one foot on the plane back to KC with 3 points in their hands.
As I stated above, Sporting KC more or less let Colorado attack Nielsen's goal in the second half. Although there were signs of it towards the end of the first, the onslaught of pressure really reached its pinnacle following the half time interval. Evidence of that lies in the earliness of the Rapids two goals.
Tyrone Marshall scored Colorado's first goal following a set piece ball that he headed down off the turf into Nielsen's net. Myers covered Marshall poorly and was out-muscled on the goal.
Kosuke Kimura was Colorado's next goal scorer. This goal came off another set piece as Lawrentowicz drove a ball down low to Jimmy's right hand side, Nielsen parried the ball well but Conor Casey got to the ball before a SKC player could and quickly played it back across goal where Kimura was in the right place at the right time to hit it into the goal.
Paolo Nagamura's epic charlie horse towards the end of the second half was about all Sporting KC could muster up in terms of action for the traveling supporters and the game ended 2-2.
Jimmy Nielsen 6 - Nielsen was caught pretty far out of position on the second goal but there was hardly anything he could do about the first one.
Seth Sinovic 7 - Seth had a picture perfect cross to Bunbur+y for Sporting's first goal and did well stopping Colorado's right wing.
Matt Besler 7 - Besler isn't really known for his aerial abilities but had some key headed clearances and battled well against the stronger Conor Casey. Matt also had some great tackles, both sliding and standing.
Aurelien Collin 6.5 - It was a slightly better game from Aurelien last night as compared to previous weeks but he still could have caused Sporting another loss if Conor Casey would have finished the Frenchman's miss-hit pass.
Chance Myers 6 - Myers lost Marshall on Colorado's second goal and along with Kamara did little to stop the Rapids' attacks coming from the left wing.
Julio Cesar 7 - Julio did well to stop most of Colorado's attacks coming down the middle of the park which forced most of the threats to come from the wing. All while sitting nicely in front of SKC's back 4.
Paolo Nagamura 6.5 - Paolo was forced to step into a position he wasn't too familiar with and performed admirably.
Graham Zusi 7 - I thought Graham had an exceptional game and showed why he has deservedly been called up to the USMNT's training camp ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
Kei Kamara 6 - Kamara again failed to perform at the high standards we are used to seeing from him and has been goal-less and assist-less for many-a-weeks now.
Teal Bunbury 7.5 (man of the match) - For a guy that's had to wait 2 months for his first start of the season, scoring two goals in as many months is impressive. Bunbury was in the right place at the right time and could be the answer to Sporting KC's lack-of-a-deadly-finisher problem. One can hope anyway...
Bobby Convey 6.5 - Bobby's form is so up and down, one day he's elevating himself to cult status in my mind and the next he's getting subbed off in the 59th minute. I still hope one day we'll see Bunbury take Convey's spot on the left and CJ Sapong will fill Teal's role in the center while Kamara stays on the right.