The first half of Sporting Kansas City’s 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday put most to sleep, and the second half made the rest wish they had dozed off already.
Four days removed from an uptempo, promising victory over FC Dallas at home, Sporting looked lackadaisical against a team that entered the night six points out of a playoff spot.
In Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes’ own words, the loss was “horrific.”
“We were not good,” Vermes added. “We were not good in possession. We were reacting to everything on the field. We played very, very poorly in the game tonight.
“This isn’t one of those games where we deserved anything, that’s for sure. We were never dangerous in and around goal. We were just there. We were just on the field, we weren’t playing the game at all.”
To be fair, Houston wasn’t far and away the better team by any means. Nor were they much more lively throughout the match. The two sides managed seven shots on target, but apart from the lone goal, only Tim Melia’s save in the 62nd minute proved to be a true goal-scoring opportunity.
Yet, it takes just one chance to turn a result into zero points.
Here are three thoughts from the match:
1. Defensive blunders occurring too often
In a perfect world, defenders would never have moments that leave the rest of us wondering what they were thinking. But that’s wishful thinking.
The reality is that defensive gaffes will happen. They key is limiting their reoccurrences, which Sporting KC hasn’t done well to do over the last month and a half.
In the first GIF below, Kevin Ellis stops dead in his tracks despite help up top just a few feet away. That allows Ricardo Clark ample space to send in an open cross.
Five minutes later, Jacob Peterson allows 33-year-old DaMarcus Beasley to run right by him despite Chance Myers clearly drifting over to take on another attacker. In the end, Beasley crossed in a ball to Will Bruin for a tap-in from 2-yards out.
2. Intensity, where are thou?
Perhaps it was the Texas heat sending temperatures up into the low-to-mid 90s. Perhaps it was the sandbar of a pitch at BBVA Compass Stadium. Maybe it was Sporting KC overlooking a Dynamo team that hasn’t done much in the past few weeks.
However, more likely: Those are just excuses.
The intensity that drove the Sporting KC attack against FC Dallas was nonexistent on Wednesday. Vermes was right to say his team was, well, just there. The attack wasn’t fruitless or bogged down – both indicate it was trying to be productive in the first place. The defense, while steady at times, was plugging holes more than it was controlling the match.
Against a team not willing to drive the game themselves, the result is a boring 90 minutes dictated by one or two sequences.
3. Two negatives … or one negative, one positive?
Here’s a troubling stat if you’re a Sporting KC fan:
And here’s even more troubling news, unless you’re in the camp that wishes to see Sporting KC well rested for Sept. 30’s U.S. Open Cup Final against the Philadelphia Union:
The next seven days will be intriguing. A result on Wednesday would have allowed Sporting the opportunity to rest some guys against Western Conference foe Seattle Sounders FC this weekend. Instead, they will see some players rest while still needing a result.
▪ A Houston player has been sent off in all four meetings against Sporting KC this season, including U.S. Open Cup action.
▪ Four of Sporting KC’s last five losses have come to teams currently outside of the playoff picture (Credit: Mike Kuhn of Down the Byline).
▪ Erik Palmer-Brown is the youngest player on the 2015 MLS 24 Under 24 rankings, coming in at No. 24.