Monday, June 13, 2011

The MLS Grinder: KC's Wild Week

In the afterglow of the recent disaster in Tampa, MLS sort of took a weird backseat to the US's struggles against Panama this weekend. There were fans of all stripes tuned in to the 2-1 defeat on Saturday night, some even eschewing their club allegiances in the process to watch. So we had a dulled weekend of sorts in terms of the full sensory experience. Even if your side won, there was still that specter of defeat lingering over all of us.

So anyway, with that in mind, we're going to go in a somewhat different direction with our game of the week. In a sense, Kansas City embodies this weekend better than most, and as such...

Team of the Week
Sporting KC

It's easy enough to pinpoint the Herculean heights of KC's start to the week. Before Thursday, Sporting had played one "home" game all year, a US Open Cup play-in match against New England in the spacious Blue Valley District Activities Complex in Overland Park. The event (a 5-0 win to KC) drew a monstrous crowd of 1,228.

On Thursday, Sporting opened the shiny new Livestrong Sporting Park with all the fanfare you'd expect. Lance Armstrong took a break from deflecting steroid-laced arrows lobbed by the media and kicked the thing off himself. Most importantly, hosting a bad Chicago Fire team figured to give the struggling KC outfit an avenue back into the league table. And it's an impressive palace...

Predictably, KC flopped. The opener was a dud, as the teams wrestled to a mostly listless 0-0 draw, relegating the KC faithful to dark-lit corners to ponder their future. Heck, the first goal in the stadium's history was tipped in by a wayward cow (see what I did there?).

KC fans had reason to grumble disaffectedly. The result dropped KC's doldrums to new lows, as Sporting then had seven points from 11 games, placing them firmly in the Eastern Conference cellar. A brief glimpse at the schedule offered little reprieve.

So here comes second-place FC Dallas, chests puffed out as Sporting put the new park in the rearview Sunday night to face a homestanding Dallas team that hadn't lost in nearly two months. So of course this happens. What is this league?

Just to confirm, this was KC's second win of the year, snapped FC Dallas' nine-game unbeaten streak and was accomplished without the services of striker Omar Bravo and first-choice keeper Jimmy Nielsen. Oh, and KC played the last 31 minutes a man down. That happened too.

Graham Zusi was tremendous in this game, tallying two goals and an assist to lead KC to the most shocking scoreline of the week in MLS play. Now the question becomes, will it be another 85 days before Sporting wins again?

Best of the Best

- A few sides overcame the loss of USMNT call-ups this weekend with digestible results. The Tim Ream-less Red Bulls (I'd argue the US was Tim Ream-less on Saturday night, but I digress...) popped out a workmanlike 2-1 victory over the Revs, San Jose continued its ascent sans Wondo with a goal-chocked 4-2 win over DC United, but the Galaxy, without Donovan, only took a point at home against generally awful Toronto FC in a back-and-forth 2-2 draw. While the US fan in you might cringe, faithful Galaxy supporter,  you might be getting Landon back a lot earlier this month than you expected. Bring on Guadeloupe!

- I love the Cascadia Cup. I love everything about it. Why the Northwest is so passionate about its soccer is a psychology piece for another day, but we were treated to a nice match in a 2-2 draw between Seattle and Vancouver, which has caretaker manager Tom Soehn at the helm for the time being. Maybe it's for that reason, but I'm not quick to give the 'Caps the benefit of the doubt in most previews, especially away... at Qwest. And despite the result, Vancouver is still winless in its last 14. But this game produced a few moments of brilliance.

And any game that pumps out a strike of this caliber is on my favorites list. I mean... what?

- Of note, Theirry Henry leads the most recent MLS Castrol Index. Shock. Ing.

Worst of the Worst

- Oh dear Columbus... it's not quite been your season. A week after salvaging a point away to New York, the Crew were held scoreless in a dismal 1-0 home loss to the Fire, who were 0-4-7 entering the game. Losing to the Fire (at home) is bad enough, but this effectively kneecapped any good will generated by Rich Balchan's stoppage-time equalizer the week before. One step forward, two back...

If you're looking for some incisive, hard-hitting analysis on why Columbus lost, Robert Warzycha has you covered: "Too many guys had a bad game." Yup.

- DC United has some problems at the back. That much is obvious.

- You're not getting out of here without me mentioning this garbage one more time. If Tim Ream isn't benched for the rest of this GC, Bobbo's got a screw loose. And if there was anything scarier than watching that abomination for the better part of 65 minutes, Mexico julienned Costa Rica to the tune of 4-1 this weekend. Fun times ahead, guys!

- Will Parchman


Bozeman said...

Not to nitpick, but you talk about how they tied 0-0, but then say "The loss dropped KC's doldrums to new lows..." ;)

Will said...

Good catch. Guess it just felt more like a loss than the result showed. Freudian slip, I suppose.

Bozeman said...

In many ways it is! Opening up a pricey new stadium with much hype, than giving a dull game. Oof.