The Full 90

Three thoughts on Sporting KC’s 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose has never been kind to Sporting Kansas City, but the club’s latest lost there will hurt even more.

Denied a routine penalty call to help take the lead, Sporting KC eventually fell 1-0 to the Earthquakes on Sunday. The club is now 0-11-5 in San Jose since 2000 and 4-4-0 record wise overall this season. Apparently, draws are hard to come by for this team.

Sporting KC has now dropped three-straight matches, and will continue its road spell with a trip to Vancouver on Wednesday. In the meantime, here are three thoughts on the 1-0 decision:

Sporting KC unable to capitalize on fiery start

The early stage of Sunday’s match is a great example/reminder of how effective a high-press style can be. Sporting KC was utilizing every zone of the field early on and making San Jose work harder than usual in the process. The defense was organized and the attack creative, which directly led to seven Earthquakes turnovers in the first 15 minutes and a handful of opportunities inside the attacking third.

But unlike the blitzkrieg fans witness at Children’s Mercy Park on March 12 against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, which resulted in two first-half goals en route to a dominating win, Sporting KC couldn’t find the back of the net on Sunday. San Jose goalkeeper Davis Bingham was a big reason why. The 6-foot-2 shot-stopper made five saves in all, but was particularly good in the first half to keep his side in the match.

Still, the visitors squandered multiple scoring opportunities, be it missed shots or poor crosses. And because the high-press – at least at the rate Sporting KC displayed early in the game – isn’t designed to go a full 90 minutes*, one shot needs to be put in the back of the net.

*Or even70 … or 60 … or 50 …

When that doesn’t happen, a result like this can be expected.

Pro Referees once again incompetent, unprofessional

Once again this season, Pro Referees stole the spotlight in a display of clumsy officiating.

Lead official Jair Marrufo swallowed his whistle on a blatant trip inside the box that all but set up Sporting KC for a penalty take early in the second half. Even 20 yards behind the play, replays showed Marrufo was in position to see the defender whiff on the ball and catch Dom Dwyer’s heels. At the very least, Marrufo’s assistant referee was in position to make the call, but he too denied the obvious.

“I don't need a replay. I saw the thing live,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said over the phone following the match. “I don’t need a replay – 100 percent a penalty kick and a red card. It’s a very poor mistake. More importantly, there was a level of arrogance after that it wasn’t a mistake from the referee, and that’s the part I’m most disappointed about. I know guys will make mistakes, but just a level of arrogance in the game after that was ridiculous.”

Missed calls due to human error are expected. That also goes for game-changing calls. Unfortunate, yes, but they happen. What left MLS fans around the league furious was the lack of respect shown by Pro Referees on-hand following the match.

Regardless of what words were exchanged, this is a black eye on Pro Referees, which have taken a beating by critics through eight weeks of action. This is a mark of unprofessionalism; an inability to own up to mistakes, and in the process actually exhibit that inability for all to see.

While the short and long-term solutions to fixing Pro’s issues on the field may be complex, the behavior displayed on Sunday isn’t. It’s simply inexcusable.

A few insta-reactions …

▪ It’s clear Matt Besler is still getting back into the swing of things following his concussion last month. Sporting KC’s captain was slow getting to challenges and sloppy once he got there. Vermes was able to save his legs, though, by subbing on Ike Opara midway through the second half.

▪ Benny Feilhaber has two goals and an assist in four appearances this season, which is hard to believe considering it seems like we’ve been saying he’s still recovering from the injury that kept him sidelined to start the year. He opened more eyes on Sunday with a pair of class turns leading to crosses. One nearly led to an opening goal for the visitors.

▪ I thought Nuno Coelho and Lawrence Olum were especially organized defensively throughout the game. Coelho denied San Jose a goal early in the game on a last-ditch effort, and Olum had only five unsuccessful passes (none of which was in a terrible spot).

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