Awkward Challenges Lead to Penalties
To start off that wasn't a penalty by any means, Aurleien Collin did come across Neagle but he got a foot on the ball. Sasha Victorine called it perfect by pointing out that Juan Guzman didn't have the angle to see that. However, despite lacking an angle the ball takes a clear misdirect after Collin touches it. The problem will always be that we have the benefit of replay which we can watch over and over. At full speed, that looks like a reckless challenge and it looks like he caught Neagle, neither of which was particularly true. If Neagle doesn't take that poor touch, Nielsen is in position and the game is different and perhaps Sporting KC gets a chance to equalize. Instead, they go down two goals and Montreal put eight men behind the ball. Sometimes, luck just goes that way.
Finishing Can Be Streaky
Someday, it will come back around. With such distinct advantages in chances created, Sporting KC does not have anything to be concerned about in setting up chances. It wasn't a bad game by Donovan Ricketts, but for the most part he didn't have to make any spectacular saves either. Even if you think back to most of the goals scored by Sporting this year in open play, they've come off of rebounds and goalie mistakes like the beautiful winner against FC Dallas where Hartman misplayed it and left the goal open to Kamara.
There has been some poor luck and choices lately. As luck goes, Roger Espinoza has to score someday. My favorite of the latter was Chance Myers trying to score a golazo from 35 yards out and kicking the ball twenty rows back when he had Kamara running out wide. The scoring will come around in even game and especially so if they sort out the identity problems that plague them when going down a goal.
Twitter was full of complaints about the style displayed after the second goal...the ole boot it deep routine. The problem inherent in these past two games is that teams have found a way to contain Sporting Kansas City. This does not speak well of the cynical defensive approach taken, but it also necessitates that Sporting finds a way around the defensive wall in front of them.
When Peter Vermes only describes his system as high pressure, he is not an understating his philosophy but describing the key component to Sporting KC's success. Defensively, the pressure by the midfield saves the center backs some work, and frees the fullbacks to attack. When the pressure is lax, goals like the first one by Felipe Martins happen.
This was an outstanding goal, well taken and really it's hard to blame any Sporting KC players for it. However, if you insist on saying your philosophy is based on pressure the ball watching by Zusi and Julio Cesar is not acceptable. Zusi, especially, as the ball came to Felipe Martins after Zusi was essentially man marking him but watched the play out wide and lost him.
The more important flaw to this game was an obvious lack of width. I'll be looking at Sporting's offensive problems more in depth later but it easy to see they are at their best when keeping the field wide and attacking from the flanks. In this game, too often did Convey and Kamara try to come inside, but not only abandoning the flanks but almost refusing to give the ball out wide to overlapping fullbacks. Against a 4-4-2, the numbers for Sporting are in their favor in the midfield, but overcompensating against your own strengths was a poor move.
With two backup center backs playing for Montreal, it would have been preferable to test them from the wings, since Sporting KC wins more headers than any club I've watched this year. Even when they did go this route, the crosses often were lofted too high (looking at you Bobby Convey) and even after winning aerial duels were no threat to goal.
Lastly, the choice to continue to start CJ Sapong is odd. Unless there is a distinct difference in their training that continues to separate them, then Teal Bunbury should get starts sometimes. His performance after entering the game for Sapong was disappointing, but after he entered the game changed in a way that would have suited Sapong's superior hold-up play and energy coming off the bench. I don't know if Bunbury playing the first 65 minutes would have changed the attack, but I'm fairly certain that bringing on a fresh CJ Sapong down two goals against a team forcing you to attack them aerially would have suited their chances better.