HOUSTON - JULY 18: Boniek Garcia #27 of the Houston Dynamo keeps the ball away from Peterson Joseph #19 of the Sporting KC in the first half at BBVA Compass Stadium on July 18, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Seeing Red: Sporting KC Loses 2-1 In Houston

Peterson Joseph's Roger Espinoza impression does not impress Sporting KC fans, but does entertain casual observers. The rest of the team performs admirably, which is supporter speak for "loses with dignity, which still makes us miserable." At the end of the match, "bodies were strewn everywhere", which implies that the Houston announcers were watching a B-movie in the booth.

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Sporting KC Vs. Houston: Player Ratings From Wednesday's Loss

Last night was a night to forget for Sporting KC with the final result being a 2-1 loss to Houston. Here's a breakdown of SKC player ratings from the game:

Jimmy Nielsen -6
Came up big on a deflection, and can't really be blamed for either goal. Jimmy is never going to be the fastest of goalies, but his instincts are spot on.

Michael Harrington -4
He seemed lost, which for a veteran player is odd. He often drifted too far inside and is not prone to advancing quite like Myers can. It was a poor match for him, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when he was replaced by Myers and switched to the left. Then, of course, they gave up a goal on Myers side.

Aurelien Collin -6
The Houston announcers couldn't stop lauding his performance, and this was one of those matches where he did have his challenges well timed. His rating drops because of the weird overplay on the goal, where he covers for the rest of the defense leaving Calen Carr right in front of the goal.

Matt Besler -4
On the first goal, I have no idea where he is. Collin is covering for him, he should at least be covering for Collin. On the second, the cross passes his outstretched body, where he may have been better served staying up and challenging the awkward attempt by Calen Carr. Outside that it was solid, but being either involved or disappearing on the two goals doesn't sit well.

Seth Sinovic -4
Sporting KC was abused outside on the left as well as the right. In Sinovic's case, they played more inside of him, but he didn't play a part when they drifted inside pulling the center backs away from their mark towards Will Bruin's diagonal runs.

Paulo Nagamura -4
Not his most active role in a game where the play often drifted out wide. The concession of possession still falls on the midfield, but without Joseph pressing higher the second level of pressing never really set in.

Michael Thomas-4
He was on the field. Had a clever flick on in the waning moments of the match, but neither hurt or helped his cause. The rift that may exist between Vermes and Julio Cesar did more to help his stock than this performance.

Peterson Joseph -2
The effort was there, the restraint was nowhere to be found. He didn't have any of the insightful passes that he showed in the Columbus match, and often failed to even maintain possession. The red card was harsh, but correctly ruled. You can't really ask for more in a league plagued at times by poor officiating.

Kei Kamara - 6
He's disruptive and by far the biggest mismatch that Sporting KC presents. While you have moments where he does odd things on defense (juggling the ball and clearing over his head), he also gets back and makes strong challenges to keep the ball away from Sporting's goal. On offense, his decision making often went awry but he was also the one creating these chances.

Jacob Peterson - 6
He's well on his way to fan favorite. That's not something we expected out of the journeyman, the least heralded of the three acquisitions in the off-season. The run he made to get the penalty was another savvy move by the veteran. Perhaps, if Kamara saw another run towards the far post, he gets a goal there to take the pressure off Sporting KC.

Teal Bunbury -4
He sure is fast. There were ample opportunities for that speed to pay dividends in the first half, but each time Bunbury was foiled by either impatience or poor touch. Obviously, the PK argument with Kamara was odd, but chalk that up to Bunbury just wanting to be involved and score as opposed to the weirdly petulant display by both players.


CJ Sapong - N/A He was on the field for an entire half and I have nothing to say about him. He wasn't out of position, but he wasn't involved either. He should've dropped into the Zusi role and held up the ball hoping for an occasional counter. Instead, Vermes put him up top and said pray the ball comes to me. It didn't

Chance Myers -3 It's mean, but he steps onto the field plays too narrow much like Harrington did all game and Brad Davis took advantage. That was the game, and he was involved in the loss just fifteen seconds into the match.

Bobby Convey -N/A He got on the field, which is a positive development. His first touch was a poor quickly taken cross that should have given Sporting a chance to equalize and steal a point.


Seeing Red: Sporting KC Loses 2-1 In Houston

The main storyline coming in was can Sporting Kansas City replace Roger Espinoza. Peterson Joseph looked at some Espinoza tape this week and thought, "Hell, I can run around the midfield out of control and wreck havoc." So for 45 and a couple extra minutes, Joseph maintained such aggression and reckless behavior bowling over Houston Dynamo players and making things uncomfortable. Then, he went full bad-Espinoza and mowed down Houston's Calen Carr, SKC fans screamed(multiple expletives deleted) in exasperation and the tens of Dynamo fans in attendance celebrated. Luckily for us, Oscar Boniek Garcia remained on the field and did his best to remind us how well Honduran national team players go to ground.

We Get It, We're Deep

Never rest Graham Zusi this much, and especially not Chance Myers. Dear God, what did you tell Peter Vermes that made him think, I bet my reserves are just as good in this brilliant system. Even before the card, the cracks were apparent. Teal Bunbury couldn't hold the ball worth a damn. Michael Harrington had one of those horrible, "I have no idea where I'm supposed to be positioned games." With Paulo Nagamura in the good Cesar role and Michael Thomas as missing Cesar, the midfield needed someone to assert himself. That is not what we meant Peterson Joseph, but nice try.

Give Vermes credit for realizing both the ability to win this game as opposed to the New England home match on Saturday and the extreme conditions likely to exist in Kansas City on Saturday. On the other hand, why can't Graham Zusi come on in the second half and maintain a semblance of possession in midfield. The subs weren't bad, as Myers needed to come in, Bunbury was going to fight Kei Kamara at some point, and Bobby Convey might not remember what a soccer pitch feels like as evidenced by his first touch.

Bruin and Carr Eat Up Defenders, Brad Davis Does An Effective Brad Davis Impersonation

Calen Carr will get the headlines for the brace (should've been a hat trick) and for taking the hit that sent Kansas City down a man. Credit must be given where credit is due. The Houston front three outplayed their counterparts even with Macoumba Kandji and Brian Ching playing the entire game in an offside position. The worst displays of defending in a while were on display as Carr and Bruin continuously one-twoed the defense and for some reason the two central defenders couldn't cope with it. On the first goal, the always aggressive Aurelien Collin chased down a loose Will Bruin, who was far enough out that he wasn't a clear danger. Behind Collin, Carr took an awkward but effective pass and hit a perfect far post shot. The finish was special, the build-up was as Sterling Archer would put it "baby town frolics." Luckily, the second goal was the opposite, great buildup, trashy lucky finish.

Brad Davis just did what he does. His first involvement was a perfectly timed run that he played back onto Aurelien Collin. His free kicks were dangerous, even if the best scoring opportunity came on a clever deflection by Paulo Nagamura. He was in the right place to get shots later and ultimately hit the cross that won them the match. Davis will always be a AAAA player, probably not good enough for a bigger stage, but he's pretty fantastic as the big fish in Houston's pond.

Nothing To See Here

In all fairness, this wasn't an awful performance. Sporting KC didn't play its best creative player, its best wingback, and played one half with the fleet footed but Bloodhound Gangin' Teal Bunbury (and a second half with CJ Sapong thinking, "Coach, perhaps we need a midfielder or the ball.") Jacob Peterson again played well as an inverted winger making another fantastic run to earn a penalty., and Kei Kamara was his usual self in good and bad ways.

Things haven't changed much after this match, as long as Seth Sinovic went off with a leg cramp. We learned that Livestrong is still the best stadium in MLS because it is full of fans. Graham Zusi's absence resulted in both tragedy and the realization that he's still our most valuable player. We also learned that Jimmy Nielsen makes the most fantastic saves off of his teammates misplays and has trouble with fluky finishes like the second goal. While New England is not the same team that Sporting beat 3-0 back in April, Sporting may be the same team that dominated that game. Don't panic.


Busy July Continues in Houston For Sporting KC

Sporting KC hopes to keep their solid July going in a new park that hasn't ever seen the home Dynamo lose. While Roger Espinoza is away in London, Sporting KC hopes their new-found depth can get them through the next couple of fixtures.

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