It's beginning to feel like deja vu all over again ... all over again.
Sporting Kansas City leaves town for a weekend match in a foreign local, plays fairly well, comes home empty handed. It's five-games in a row like this. There are four more -- all tough games -- starring KC down following a bye-week this week.
Can KC salvage enough from this epic road slough to keep afloat in the Eastern Conference? Does that count as the first of 11 questions? Does this? Enough jackassery, on with the blog.
11 (Fairly Belated) Questions I Have About Sporting Kansas City's 1-0 Loss in New York
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In last week's "11 Questions," I started to ponder whether we should dust off the panic button. I said then it wasn't time. I'll say it now -- "It's not time."
My reasoning is the same: There are still 17 home games. Teams, traditionally, do better at home on the road. Even if KC only win 2 games before June 9 (and have, say, 7-8 points), there are still 51 points for grabs at home.
Don't panic. Not yet. Keep Calm and Carry On.
Against Chivas: Michael Harrington, Ryan Smith and Teal Bunbury weren't available. Against Chicago: Harrington, Smith, Kei Kamara and Julio Cesar didn't travel with the team. Against Vancouver and Columbus: Smith and Omar Bravo didn't make the trip. Against New England: Cesar and Bravo were out. Against New York: Bravo was joined on the bench by Roger Espinoza.3. What does that mean?
Peter Vermes hasn't had a single game with the full compliment of his best players (read: The top 14-15 on the roster). The fewest "best" players he's had out in a game has been two.
More importantly: The last five games (coincidently, none of them wins) have seen designated player Omar Bravo log just 30 minutes.
But the injury bug is starting to subside. Smith is back. Harrington is healthy. Espinoza was a one-off virus (hopefully). Bravo is 1-3 weeks away.
How's that for a bit of hope? (That doesn't count as a question.)4. About the game, was the defense better?
I'm not sure I was prepared for how well Aurelien Collin and Julio Cesar played together. They didn't have a fantastic game, but they were substantially better in the back than two homeless guys with mismatched cleats. I mean, substantially better than that.
Collin is an intelligent and physical player and, for the majority of the second half, was probably closer to Thierry Henry than his underwear. Cesar, with Collin doing the dirty work on Henry, was able to play the ball out of the back and distribute -- by far and away his strength.
Against one of the most potent arrays of offensive talent in the league, KC just let in one goal.5. Is it possible there is something wrong with the offense?
KC's also-potent offense has only been shut out twice on the season. That's not terrible, right? Well, those two shutouts are against the only two teams this year that have a top-level defense.
New York and Columbus have allowed 7 goals between them (the Red Bulls only 2!). The other four teams have allowed 45 goals apiece.
What happens when you throw out the "gift" penalty against New England? KC has only created one goal since the Vancouver game.6. Should Teal Bunbury take a trip back to the bench?
I can't be the only one that noticed that Bunbury has discovered a tendency to go for the golazo over linking the play and continuing the attack. He (and Kei Kamara) have taken far too many wild shots from the edge of the box since the Vancouver game. And, as I wrote in the previous section, the team has a single goal to show for it.
When Bravo comes back and Smith is fully fit perhaps a subtle shakeup with Bunbury-Kei Kamara might keep things fresh in the attack.7. What did Peter Vermes have to say after the game?
"I thought in the first half they were having too much of the ball up the middle channel against us. We made a change in the second half, an adjustment, which I thought clogged the middle at that point, and it wasn’t easy for them to come out anymore, and it made it more difficult to mark our guy. In the second half, we were right around the box, we got a couple really good sniffs here or there. But in the end we didn’t have the finish."
I thought Vermes nearly nailed the tactics in the second half and took the game to New York. They probably deserved a point from the game. Unfortunately, the goal never came.8. Who was the man of the match?
Jimmy Nielsen. Not even close. The man is up for a Save of the Week for very good reason.9. Did KC really manage to get through the entire game without earning a yellow card?
Yeah, it baffles me too.10. Is it true that Chuck Norris just returned from a "vacation" in somewhere in Pakistan?
I'm not at liberty to comment.11. Is the road trip over yet?
No game this week for KC. But the road trip moves on with Los Angeles (May 14), Seattle Sounders (May 21), Colorado Rapids (May 28) and Toronto (June 4) on the calendar.