Sporting Kansas City opens up its 2012 Livestrong Sporting Park schedule tomorrow night against the New England Revolution.
It's going to be a gorgeous Saturday evening (Weather Channel says 77 degrees with showers cleared out by 6 p.m.). It's St. Patrick's Day (Please, drink responsibly). The Revolution are in re-building mode (and don't look that solid yet). Sporting have great expectations (#paintthewall). And it's the first March game at Livestrong (which means a full season of games in weather that isn't sweltering/freezing).The team is pumped.
"I can't explain how fun and exciting and professional Livestrong is," Matt Besler said about playing in this stadium in his hometown this off-season. "When you walk in there and see the fans and you see the city behind you, it really gets you going. I really can't ever have imagined it would be like this."
You're probably pumped.
Yeah, this might get a little out of control.
But, first, let's have a pre-match ramble.
Against D.C. United last week, Sporting KC completed 459 passes. 459. If that seems like, um, a lot... that's because it is. Only two teams completedmore
passes during MLS's FirstKick weekend.
That has to mean something, right? Well, it does and it doesn't is the short answer.
It's a worthwhile and instructive stat to study, it can also be reductive.
There are lots of cool things you can deduce: Saturday's high number let you know that Peter Vermes wants his team to keep moving the ball, play it around the whole formation, control the motion of the game and let the movement of the ball dictate the attacking angles.
Sporting had 8 players with 30 or more successful passes, and, in turn, dominated possession (57.4% to 42.6%) and scoring chances (17 shots to 7) too.
The number of passes on Saturday also show a marked improvement from last year's season opener against Chivas USA. In that game, KC passed the ball a paltry 298 times. So you know KC put in a lot of work in the last year about playing less directly and more expansively.
Here's where that stat falls apart, though. Teams that have high total passing stats tend to be the more attractive of the teams, but passing -- and possession domination -- don't often translate to results. (See also, Arsenal.)
If C.J. Sapong doesn't step up and bang home a header in stoppage time, all those passes and possession would've amounted to a scoreless draw.
Is that an anomaly? Does more passes/possession typically equate to wins?
I don't have the time (nor you likely the patience) to shift through historic MLS numbers to prove this out. Let's look at something more recent in our collective memories. Let's compare KC's passing/possession stats to three MLS teams from this last weekend.
Sporting: 459 passes, 77% passing accuracy and 57.4% possession
Team A: 455 passes, 81% passing accuracy and 51% possession