Scoring drought, what scoring drought? With the best team in MLS in town, Sporting Kansas City finally put together a complete game.
The Kansas City Star
The defense had been stout for the last two matches (and have a 360-minute shutout streak going) but the midfield and attack still seemed stagnant. Until Saturday.
After a masterful midfield performance by Benny Feilhaber, a clinical early goal by Claudio Bieler and a dribbling exhibition by Graham Zusi (not to mention a great run and finish for his own goal), it seems Sporting KC finally put it all together in a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact.
1. Kansas City got its mojo back.
This was a very good Montreal team. An undefeated Montreal team. And Kansas City just shredded them tonight.
They didn't do it by out-passing them or out-possessing them (Montreal led in both categories), but Sporting created 21 shots -- most of them legit and not the kind of chances they had against Chicago.
Bieler should've had three. Chance Myers could've had one. Seth Sinovic darn near had one too.
The Man of the Match: Benny Feilhaber
This is what many have been clamoring for from him since January. Tonight, he drove the midfield and created both KC goals. As excellent as Oriol Rosell was disrupting the passing lanes and as Paulo Nagamura was pressing up higher on Patrice Bernier, it was Feilhaber that dictated tonight's match
He might lose possession sometimes or try something that doesn't work out. But that's the position. An attacking midfielder needs to push the game forward and take risks to do so. Peter Vermes called tonight's game "exactly what they were looking for" from him. He controlled the ball, forced the defense to make decisions and chose the right pass to spring the attack.
He has the vision to find passing lanes that don't always appear open and the skills to carve open space for runners. Watch Zusi's goal again and see how he opens the space for Zusi's run though not with his pass, but with his ball movement.
More of that and KC won't have two-and-a-half match scoreless droughts very often.
2. Imagine what happens when Zusi gets some swagger to match his skills?
Dribbling through people. Breaking ankles. Cutting back. Precision crosses. No doubt Zusi's got the technical chops to cut it -- he's shown as much over the last three years with Sporting and the national team. Add to that his stamina (he played almost 180 minutes with the national team then 90 tonight) and defensive awareness (see also, the Mexico game).
Now, imagine he gets a little bit of swagger to his game? Imagine he goes into games not just being the best player on the pitch, but actually knowing it? Actually playing like it.
It's weird to see a hard-working guy lift his game to this level. It doesn't happen in soccer that often (only Chris Wondolowski springs to mind and he's not nearly as technically skilled).
Goal of the Match
Let's take a second to completely admire Claudio Bieler's goal.
Now, we won't mention the three scuffed chances he had, we'll collectively forget them and we'll still call him "clinical" and sound smart for doing so. Deal?
3. Chance Myers is gonna score this year. He's gonna do it. I swear he'll do it.
As far forward as Myers gets, it's absolutely crazy to think he's never picked up an MLS goal. Seth Sinovic has a goal. Heck, Luke Sassano has a goal!
If he gets 10 more opportunities like this, though, he'll finish at least two of them. Promise.