The Full 90

Three thoughts on Sporting KC’s 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids

Sporting Kansas City’s Connor Hallisey reacted after his second-half shot on goal was unsuccessful. The Colorado Rapids defeated Sporting 2-1 on Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park. The club was celebrating its 20th anniversary as an MLS franchise.
Sporting Kansas City’s Connor Hallisey reacted after his second-half shot on goal was unsuccessful. The Colorado Rapids defeated Sporting 2-1 on Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park. The club was celebrating its 20th anniversary as an MLS franchise. jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

Some had holes and others showed fading colors. Either way, they wore them with pride. On Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park, 90s clothing was all the rage again, namely the club’s infamous rainbow kit worn in celebration of — you best believe it — 20 years of existence.

This was prior to the match, when Sporting recognized its original season ticketholders on the field, many of who donned those incredible jerseys from 1996. It was no doubt a special celebration for those who were around when the Wizards played in front of a few thousand at Arrowhead Stadium.

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As for the game, Sporting all but handed it to the Colorado Rapids on a platter, as two lackadaisical turnovers in its own half of the field led to goals and made the difference in a 2-1 loss.

With the defeat, Sporting fell to 4-2-0 on the season. Below are three thoughts on the result:

Drop-off from Mustivar to Olum significant

Lawrence Olum has had better halves of professional soccer than the first 45 minutes on Wednesday. He was directly responsible for more than a handful of turnovers, including the giveaway that sprung Colorado’s first goal.

Sure, Olum’s teammates broke the golden rule of basketball by not furiously yelling “WOLF” to make him aware of the oncoming challenge. Nonetheless, inconsistency has been Olum’s biggest setback after two appearances. That’s a shame, because at times he’s been proficient in shielding the backline, and as a lengthy target on set pieces. But careless turnovers and repeatedly getting caught too high up the field will always trump those positives.*

*It’s important to point out that another veteran in Benny Feilhaber also had an errant pass lead to a turnover and the decisive goal for the Rapids.

“When you give up balls like that, you’re going to get crushed, and we did,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said afterward.

Olum is a fine defensive midfield replacement. He’s familiar with the system and the league, and he’s still just 31 years old. But the past two matches are evidence that the gap between he and Soni Mustivar is significant enough to affect the ways in which Sporting KC goes about attacking and defending. That, at the very least, is a small concern moving forward.

‘We like Ike’

Ike Opara’s sheer athleticism is out of this world. You know this, I know this and every MLS team knows this.

It’s my personal belief that few professional athletes would ever be able to return from a shockingly horrific injury — forcing a yearlong hiatus from the game, no less — and not miss a beat … like at all. This is especially true of a sport so heavily centered on running and jumping, and an injury that significantly affects your ability to do any of that.

Opara has proved to be an exception to that rule.

That’s right. In his first appearance of the season, Opara accomplished a feat no other MLS player has … after sitting out 363 days of competitive soccer. (Remember, too, that it came in an emergency situation after Kevin Ellis’ first-half groin injury). It’s ridiculous and not really fair to Average Joe’s such as myself, whose vertical is well below 25 inches.

Opara was once again brilliant on Wednesday night, securing a pair of interceptions and clearances to go along with — count them — six recoveries. He also went 90 minutes, which is nothing to scoff at given his long road to the field.

Colorado defeated Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at Children's Mercy Park on April 13, 2016.

“I thought he was very good again tonight,” Vermes said. “He was great in the new York game when he came in, almost what the doctor ordered. Then his follow-up tonight, to go 90 minutes, was big.”

Sporting KC will continue to monitor Opara throughout the season. It’ll be a frustrating journey, but a cautious one that is necessary after three major injuries. For now, let’s just enjoy what’s so uncommon in this league: video-game-sliders-turned-up-to-the-max athleticism.

Philosopher Mastroeni

This isn’t so much a thought — at least of mine — but some deep thinking on the part of Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni, who delivered the best quote of the season thus far.

Question: With the goal coming from a rebound off the woodwork and such, does it feel like things bounced your way?

Mastroeni: “Yeah, and if you want to stay on that note, what are we doing on this planet that’s spinning a million miles an hour? And how are we not feeling it? It’s a crazy phenomenon. That’s why the game of football is so beautiful, because we can talk tactics and talk this, but it’s really the intangibles. It’s the momentum. It’s the belief. It’s the chemistry and fortune.

“Not only do you need fortune to hit the woodwork, but you have to be opportunistic to be able to capitalize on it. So if (Shkelzen) Gashi is not in that position, it just hits the woodwork like anything else.

“That’s why this game is crazy, man. I don’t know how to explain it. I think there’s a lot to this game that stats and tactics and human beings can’t answer. Tonight was fantastic win of spirit and heart and stones.”

Beautiful answer, Pablo.

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