Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes: We missed too many chances
The boos began as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s name sounded over the public address speakers inside Children’s Mercy Park, moments before the LA Galaxy star striker had even stepped onto the field.
An hour later, they returned, this time Ibrahimovic planted in the middle of it all.
As he was throughout the night.
Ibrahimovic looked cozy in a hostile environment, his second-half goal and assist pacing the LA Galaxy past Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on Wednesday.
Ibrahimovic has 515 goals over an internationally-decorated career.
“A tough matchup,” Sporting captain Matt Besler said.
Some 72 hours ago on this very field, a final whistle prompted reactions of relief, Sporting Kansas City’s natural response to the conclusion of a long drought.
The momentum from Johnny Russell’s hat-trick performance was completely absent in front of 19,979 at Children’s Mercy Park. Instead, Sporting KC (3-5-5) was blanked on its home field for the second time this month and finished May with a mark of 1-3-1.
An oddity, given the chances it created Wednesday. Sporting KC had ample opportunity to siege control in the opening half, but its final touch prevented the scoreline from adjusting. Although the defense welcomed back Andreu Fontas and Graham Zusi, the offense remained with striker Krisztian Nemeth, serving the second of a two-game suspension for a red-card tackle.
“I don’t think it’s a 2-0 game,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said.
Asked what the Galaxy defense did to keep a clean sheet, Vermes replied, “Nothing. We missed the chances. We had wide-open looks. We just never hit the target. It was almost too easy.”
The aftermath leaves Sporting KC with only three wins in eight home matches in 2019. With an unfamiliar residence below the playoff line, the team will head for a four-game road trip in search of a turnaround. Sporting will not visit its home stadium in the entire month of June, trips to Houston, Toronto, Columbus and Salt Lake on the schedule.
Three days after it silenced a seven-game winless streak, Sporting had an opportunity to salvage the stretch by moving within a point of the playoff line. The gap now remains four, the Galaxy weathering a storm in the first half and using second-half goals from Favio Alvarez and Ibrahimovic.
“You score early on that team, and it’s a completely different match,” Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber said. “They have to open up a little bit there. They play much better with some bodies in the back and trying to counter.”
The Galaxy found the back of the net in the 55th minute, Alvarez wide open for an easy tap in with his head. Ibrahimovic set up the goal with a deft header pass.
The LA Galaxy ran its attack through Ibrahimovic. Who else? The international star created more for this teammates than himself initially. He sealed the game in the 86th minute, plowing a near-corner shot to double the gap.
“Credit to him — he was involved in both goals,” Vermes said. “And both goals, we could’ve easily done so much better (with).”