Drilling down on: Sporting Kansas City 2, FC Dallas 1

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Man of the Match: When he had his early second half penalty saved, Kei Kamara looked set for another “everything but the goal” performance. In the 88th minute, that changed, and deservedly so, as Kamara stabbed a Chance Myers pass past Kevin Hartman for the game-winning goal.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Kansas City showed why they’re the favorite in the East. Graham Zusi’s distribution from the middlle (or, from dead balls, as was the case on the first goal) can take advantage of Kei Kamara’s skills, Chance Myers’ ability to blaze forward, and C.J. Sapong’s strength in the middle. With the exception of Sapong’s, all those qualities were needed for the game-winner.
  • On the other flank, however, you have to wonder if Bobby Convey’s going to work. The former Earthquake left-sider was a non-factor, and he seems a poor fit for the system Peter Vermes has deployed. At left back? Sure. That would be great! At his preferred, left midfield role? Perhaps in a 4-4-2, but not in KC’s system, where he’s playing a more advanced position. He needs to play left back or not at all.
  • Roger Espinoza has a (voted on) reputation as a dirty player, but on Sunday, he was refreshingly clinical with his tackles – a smart, steadying influence in the middle.
  • The same can not be said for KC’s back line. All four defenders were guilty of one atrocious foul. Seth Sinovic left a foot in on Blas Perez in the 11th minute. Aurelien Collin ran through the elevated Panamanian at midfield, putting a shoulder into the Dallas forward’s lower back (and sending him to ground). Chance Myers nearly sent Ricardo Villar with a yellow-drawing challenge, and Matt Besler’s cynical foul through the back of Andrew Jacobson’s leg could have seriously hurt the former Golden Bear.
  • Speaking of Jacobson, Dallas continues to see the benefits (present and future) from their implied swap of him for former Dallas-favorite Dax McCarty. Jacobson’s calm and physical presence in midfield continue to be a good pairing with Daniel Hernández, with the tandem set to truly pay-off once David Ferreira makes a full return to the team.
  • Although he didn’t get any decent chances on goal, Blas Perez continues to show why he was one of the most under-appreciated acquisitions of the winter. Everybody knew he’d physically be a handful for MLS defenses, but today, the challenges he posed Besler and Collin resulted from his movement and passing. In the first half, he went wide (to the right of Collin), chased down a diagonal ball, and made two more small plays in the sequence to create a chance for Bryan Leyva. In the second half, his backheel flick wide to Jair Benitez put the Colombian behind a high KC line, the defender-cum-midfielder’s resulting ball through the six nearly giving Jacobson a go-ahead goal.
  • Quietly, this was a very impressive performance by KC. It’s three points from a good side, one that played a rather defensive lineup. From the mid-point of the first half, KC controlled the game, though it look liked an experienced FCD squad would hold out for a point. The execution of the game-winning goal was eye-opening, the timing of which showing KC can generate goals when they’re needed most, and against one of the league’s better defenses. That says a lot.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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