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.