Richmond’s goals came in a flash, and in a wild, wet and downright wacky game that featured a long weather delay and tons of missed scoring chances for Sporting Kansas City, they were every bit as devastating as they were quick.
That’s right. Sporting KC saw its 12-game unbeaten streak come to an end on Tuesday, and the 2-0 loss in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup didn’t even come to a Major League Soccer team. No, it came to the Richmond Kickers of USL Pro, a third-tier league that ranks behind MLS and something called the North American Soccer League.
And if you’re not quite convinced how bad that is yet, consider the following three things: a.) that Sporting actually tried to win this game (a number of regulars started or came in as substitutes), b.) that Sporting still lost despite outshooting Richmond by a preposterous 22-7 margin, and c.) coach Peter Vermes’ reaction after the game.
“We had a chance to have (an Open Cup) semifinal here, and to give that away is absolutely embarrassing,” said Vermes, who is usually much more measured. “An embarrassment. I’m totally I’m ticked. I am.”
The loss came in front of an announced crowd of 4,794, which is one of the smallest turnouts Sporting has had since $200 million Livestrong Sporting Park opened early last month. And perhaps it’s a good thing so few saw the club’s first-ever loss at the stadium, because while the home team dominated early, what happened after play resumed — and most fans had already hit the highway — was ugly.
Richmond wasted no time taking the lead after play resumed in the 65th minute, as Richmond played a long ball that landed over defender Matt Besler’s head. Aurelien Collin stepped to midfielder Shaka Bangura, but Bangura still managed to put the ball past an oncoming Kronberg to give Richmond the lead a minute later.
“I thought I timed it well,” Kronberg said. “But the next thing I knew, I turned around and it was in the goal. It’s just one of those unlucky things that happened. That’s soccer.”
Maybe. That was Richmond’s first shot on target all game long, but Vermes later called the goal inexcusable.
“Just sleeping,” he said.
And afterward, Vermes said, a lack of discipline. Given the way it had dominated the game to that point, Sporting’s players just kept pushing forward in hopes of netting the equalizer. This got them a few terrific scoring chances — which were turned away by Richmond goalkeeper Ronne Pascale, who finished with five enormous saves — but got also them in trouble in the 83rd minute, when Jamel Wallace got behind the defense and drew a foul on Collin.
This resulted in a penalty kick, which Richmond’s David Bulow put past Kronberg to ice the upset.
Sporting must now regroup before it hits the road for a showdown against Houston on Saturday, but Vermes made it clear he would not listen to any excuses.
“The next few days aren’t going to be fun around here, I can tell you that,” Vermes said. “It’s not going to be fun around here because of this kind of stuff should not take place. I don’t care whether you’re 12 games unbeaten or you’re trying to get out of the cellar, it doesn’t matter. You have to come to play every minute, and that last 30 minutes, we didn’t do it.”