As you watch highlights from last night’s contest at Livestrong Sporting Park, pay special attention to the home team’s early goal, which more or less decided the match.
It underscores how locked in and zipped up teams will need to be for all 90 minutes in the tight tussles to come. Because just a little inattention to detail here and there can change the game, as it did last night, providing Kansas City with momentum and just enough of a cushion to ride all the way to victory.
Both of Chicago’s outside backs needed to be better on Graham Zusi’s 11th-minute goal. Gonzalo Segares got turned near midfield by Kei Kamara and the Chicago left back just did not have the speed to make up the ground. Nor did he have the strength to slow down KC’s right-sided forward, even trough attempting to grab him around the upper body. (Kamara really is a big, strong guy.)
This is where Sporting Kansas City’s 4-3-3 alignment and commitment to always getting more players into the attack pays. With fewer players forward, one of Chicago’s center backs may have been closer to Segares, in better position to go help with Kamara. But Austin Berry and Arne Friedrich know the deal, that Sporting KC center forward C.J. Sapong will be lurking centrally, and that Zusi will be making a back side run.
So they can’t slide over to assist; they’ve got enough to deal with.
Across the field, Fire right back Jalil Anibaba didn’t react quickly enough to Zusi’s wise run and timely separation. So when Kamara plays his ball across, Zusi has just enough time and space to pick his corner for the 1-0 lead.
Here are all the match highlights: