Sometimes it certainly is possible to set a tempo a little too high. Sporting Kansas City showed us how it can happen.
The Eastern Conference champions, definitely the better team Wednesday at Livestrong Sporting Park, gave the Houston Dynamo all the helter-skelter, hell-bent, high-pressure soccer the visitors could handle in the back half of their conference semifinal.
SKC had everything in the performance – except, that is, a little composure near goal.
They needed two in order to match Houston’s pair of goals from Sunday’s opener in the series. They got just one – but, oh, did they miss a bundle.
Kansas City won, 1-0, but fell to the Dynamo on total goal aggregate over the two-game series, 2-1.
Considering the amount of possession and the number of quality chances created (the home team out-shot Houston 20-3), it’s fair to say that SKC’s season is ending prematurely because of some terribly wasteful finishing.
It looked like one of those games from the earliest minutes. Let’s go through the list that will haunt SKC fans
- In the early minutes, striker C.J. Sapong broke free just to the right of goal but shot directly at Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall from 18 yards.
- Not long after, Kei Kamara arranged a nice little something for Graham Zusi from the right, but the U.S. international got under the ball and left his shot from about 12 yards well high.
- A few minutes after that, Kamara was in the middle for a shot with lots of potential, but saw that one that blocked from about 14 yards.
- On a quality, headed layoff from Kamara, Sapong failed to connect solidly from point blank range, just outside the six-yard box. The “shot” rolled harmlessly to Hall. (You’re going to keep seeing Sapong’s name on this list.)
- Sapong got loose for a first-half stoppage time header off a sharp corner kick delivery from Zusi, but that effort went well wide. Zusi, by the way, was all over the place, doing his part and then some to help his team dominate possession and create some of these chances.
- None of that, by the way, is even considering Kamara’s snapped header, down low toward the far post, on another of Zusi’s precision free kick deliveries. That one went wide, too. Kamara was called offside, but the point is all the same. It was more haphazard finishing.
- In the second half, Sapong, on a cross from Myers, got over Houston center back Andrew Hainault but watched his header fly well high.
- Peterson Joseph shook free and, with time and the ball on his favored right foot, went way wide from about 15 yards wide.
- Sapong had a chance to redirect a Kamara shot but failed to push it toward goal from 12 yards in the 66th minute.
- Shortly after that, Sapong squeezed in between Houston’s two center backs and Hall, but squandered another one, blowing his shot from 12 yards into the stands, high of goal.
- Oriol Rosell had time to line up a long-range effort but sprayed his effort from 22 yards harmlessly wide to the left.
- Finally, center back Matt Besler – in fairness, he isn’t paid to score goals – lifted his right leg high and twisted somewhat awkwardly to volley over goal from close range.
There were a couple of others that were crisply hit, but right toward Hall.
In fact, what you’ll see there, or more accurately will not see there, are a bunch of stretching, diving, heroic saves from Hall. Houston’s No. 1 had another solid match, getting off his line quickly and confidently to snatch the balls that needed snatching.
But SKC will rue all those chances to test the visiting goalkeeper, at very least.