HOW IT PLAYED OUT
If you’re merely watching for goals this early in the season, you’re missing out on something compelling with this Sporting Kansas City side: intent, and loads of it. You can see it across all three lines, in both phases of the game; players envisioning the next pass, the space they need to fill, the run the player on the ball expects to play. Goals are not insignificant, but there’s reason to believe this team’s ceiling is higher than expected.
Sporting KC dominated possession on Saturday — 68 percent against the current Supporters' Shield holders — and defended FC Dallas’ counter-attacking approach well. The times they didn’t, they had Tim Melia and the post to thank. Melia closed off an angle as he did last week against D.C. United, much to the delight of Ilie Sanchez, whose giveaway saw the visitors rushing down the left side of the field. Four minutes later, Tesho Akindele squared the ball to Cristian Colman in front of goal, but the 23-year-old’s finish clanked off the post.
That was pretty much it for FC Dallas. On the other side, Dom Dwyer missed on a pair of point-blank chances. (He also successfully pulled off a bicycle-kick cross, which warrants a mention.)
WAITING, WAITING, WAITING
Sporting KC staff and fans weren't pleased with what they believed to be time-wasting on the part of FC Dallas throughout the match.
"When you're asking the goalkeeper within the first two, three minutes of the game on the opposing team to hurry the game up — you're already having a talk with him — at what point do you realize that's already going to be a tactic in the game and you start manage that," head coach Peter Vermes said after the match.
Benny Feilhaber said he thought the confrontation with Jesse Gonzalez and referee Sorin Stoica would deter that behavior, but that it ultimately was not the deciding factor in Sporting KC not being able to find the back of the net.
"I'm sure if you ask Dallas, they'll tell you that's what they were trying to do. I don't think it was a secret," Feilhaber said. "They were trying to grind out a result. They got a really good result on the road last weekend, and they play Champions League this upcoming week, so of course a 0-0 draw for them was fantastic."
MAN OF THE MATCH
Feilhaber’s already the beneficiary of space, thanks to the width supplied by Jimmy Medranda and Gerso Fernandes. Sporting KC’s No. 10 was active in the midfield, where the home side did nearly half its damage. But he was also roaming out on the flanks whenever Medranda and Gerso would overlap into the middle of the field. In the 35th minute, Feilhaber fooled the FC Dallas defense, stopping on a dime to deliver a floated pass onto Dwyer’s favored foot. It ended up a wasted opportunity, but an encouraging one thanks to one of the top playmakers in the league.
"I thought in the first half we did a pretty good job at creating chances even with (their) guys behind the ball," Feilhaber said. "But in the second half, I didn't think it was good. Of course we still had some chances, but I think we need to be a little more clinical. That's the hardest part of the game, so we'll try to focus in more and make sure those chances turn into goals."
GIF OF THE MATCH
Home against San Jose Earthquakes on March 18