Sporting Kansas City’s hottest game of the season was also among its most frustrating.
Sporting KC battled Columbus to a 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon at Children’s Mercy Park, despite being a man up in the second half. The winner would have taken over the top spot in the MLS Supporter’s Shield race.
Manager Peter Vermes wasn’t happy that his club failed to capitalize on that advantage with a goal, a victory and the full three points.
“The one thing for me is, we have an obligation, I think every time we step inside the white lines to play a certain way, and at times, what’s going to happen is you’re going to be off,” Vermes said. “The one thing you always need to bring is your effort. We have an obligation to leave everything you have physically on the field, and I don’t think we did that today… I can’t tell you exactly what the reason is for it, but I can tell you the players will feel it in the next week, for sure.”
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Columbus (7-3-4) entered the game with the league’s best defense and left Kansas City with a 495-minute scoreless streak.
Sporting KC (7-2-4) managed just three shots on target, and failed to generate the sort of scoring chances it had in earlier matches this season.
“I think we just lacked energy and urgency. We knew how good of a defensive team they were and we were going to have to be at our best,” Sporting KC forward Johnny Russell said. “We came nowhere near it today. We have no complaints. We didn’t perform on the day, and that’s why we didn’t win.”
Sporting KC gained the man advantage after Columbus midfielder Federick Higuain was shown a red card in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time for a dangerous tackle on Roger Espinoza.
The play didn’t draw a whistle in real time, and the card was issued after video review, the first of Higuain’s career.
The Crew was fortunate not to be down two men. Christian Martinez threw a punch at Seth Sinovic behind the run of play. It left Sinovic sprawled on the turf, and he was subbed out of the match in the 58th minute.
The play involving Sinovic wasn’t reviewed. MLS didn’t allow referee Robert Sibiga to answer a pool reporter’s questions about the play, stating that questions about video review were “invalid.”
“He was running out and I tried to step in front of his run, and I felt something hit my face and I kind of went down,” Sinovic said. “He definitely connected. I don’t know how else to say it. From (Sibiga’s) explanation to me, I was under the impression that there was a review, but they didn’t have video of the incident. And he was away from the ball, so it was impossible for him to see that live.”
Vermes hadn’t seen the replay when asked about it at the postgame news conference, and didn’t get an explanation as to why the play wasn’t reviewed.
“No, not at all. I’m assuming everybody is asking me because it must’ve been pretty poor,” Vermes said.
As it turned out, Sporting KC was fortunate to avoid the loss. Goalkeeper Tim Melia helped create Columbus’ best scoring chance, fouling Gyasi Zardes in the box in the 40th minute.
“I definitely made contact with Zardes … momentum is carrying from both directions. There’s no clear and obvious effort on my part to tackle the player or to make a play on the individual player, so I think it’s a soft penalty,” Melia said.
Melia made up for it by stuffing Zardes’ ensuing penalty kick. He’s now stopped four of the last six penalty kick’s he’s faced in MLS regular-season play.
As for whether Melia had an edge heading into the showdown, he only smiled.
“Um, nothing,” Melia said, “that I want to talk about. That would’ve crushed us. If the result stayed the way it would’ve, this would’ve been a terrible game to lose.”
It wasn’t a loss, but it felt like one to Sporting KC.
- Sunday’s attendance was 20,697
- Sporting KC midfielder Wan Kuzain, 19, made his club and MLS debut in the 86th minute, when he replaced Roger Espinoza.