Two games into the season, Sporting Kansas City has allowed just two goals. Not a terrible record on the surface.
But, it's when those goals have come that's the problem. The Seattle Sounders scored three minutes into stoppage time. FC Dallas scored in the 90th minute.
As Peter Vermes said after the game, there's no question "for the first 30 minutes who the better team was." However, being "better" doesn't often translate to victory at Sporting Park over the last few years.
Here are three things to take away from the game.1. Kansas City's worrying lack of focus on the tying goal
Matt Hedges, a center back, was essentially unmarked on this play. (Also: Why was Aurelien Collin — Kansas City's best aerial threat in the game — not covering Hedges?)
Now, reasonable people can debate the "foul" that led to the free kick opportunity. To me, it looks like a dive with a slight amount of contact.Foul debate aside, it's the marking and the lack of focus that caused Kansas City to drop these points tonight. That's a lack of focus that, as Peter Vermes noted in his post-game press conference, shouldn't happen to experienced veteran teams like Kansas City. 2. Kansas City's inability to make possession and chances count — again While the late goal felt awfully familiar, it's the 90 minutes before that felt more like deja vu. Sporting KC had 65 percent of the ball in the game and created an overwhelming number of chances (8 to 1). Yet, another home game ends with a disappointing home performance, dropped points and zero goals from an attacking player. The only goal against Dallas came (on a set piece) from KC's most consistent goal-scorer: Collin.* *Out of Kansas City's last 10 goals in all competitions, seven have been scored by a defensive player. (That includes four by Collin.) Dallas seemed to have a familiar game plan for dealing with Sporting: Bunker. Dropping back into a shell frustrates Kansas City and it has now for the last two seasons. Based on tonight's result, I expect we'll see this a lot more often in 2014. At least until Kansas City figures out how to punish teams who resort to this tactic. It sorta says something when Jacob Peterson (!?!) running at the defense is Option A for the attack. The lack of Graham Zusi and Claudio Bieler was noticeable — and understandable given the challenge of the second leg of the Champions League against Cruz Azul looming on Wednesday night in Mexico. 3. The Dom Dwyer conundrum The fact that he even thought of — and managed to connect — with this bicycle kick tells you everything you need to know about his athleticism. It also tells you why he's frustratingly inconsistent in front of goal at the MLS level. That's a selfish play that drives coaches crazy. Dwyer is good at so many things that a central forward must be good at to play in Vermes' style. The one thing he doesn't seem to have a good handle on, though, is control and accuracy in the box. This could be a thing that will come with time. After all, tonight was only his eighth MLS start (and 18th appearance overall). In his 18 games with KC, he's only scored just three goals — including the one big one against Houston to win the Eastern Conference final. (Perhaps he'll get a goal here soon and they'll start flying in — like they did for him in Orlando.) But here's the stat that I find troubling: Over the last 36 MLS regular season games, Claudio Bieler has been on the field as the central forward for 37 of Kansas City's 48 goals. Dwyer has been on for just nine goals. (Teal Bunbury was on for the other two during the second half of 2013.) Now, the numbers are a bit skewed because Bieler has more appearances (29) than Dwyer (17) and I won't confuse correlation for causation. But Bieler doesn't have four times as many appearances in that span as Dwyer. It's not even twice as many. At what point does that stat become more than a coincidence? Man of the Match: Aurelien Collin He scored the goal and, generally, was the best player on the field for Kansas City.