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.