HOW IT PLAYED OUT
After last week's scoreless affair, Benny Feilhaber admitted he was concerned with the lack of polish in the final third through two matches, citing his responsibility to have everyone firing on all cylinders. Fast forward seven days and 37 minutes into the next match, and Feilhaber found himself in space 24 yards out. He glanced up at the crowded penalty area, then back down at the ball, before delivering a how’s-this-for-responsibility golazo that froze San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham in his place.
The strike was part of a comprehensive opening half from Sporting Kansas City in a (mostly) impressive 2-1 performance. The attack was locked in from the get-go, causing havoc in the box as early as two minutes in. Within the first 45 minutes alone, the home side fired 8 shots — 3 on target — and carried an eye-popping 80 percent passing accuracy.
The Earthquakes weren’t given an inch for 90 minutes, but the final three of extra time were a different story. A sloppy sequence in front of goal got the visitors within one, and if not for Tim Melia's heroic effort — stretching out to his left to redirect what looked like a sure-fire goal — a last-second effort would’ve equalized.
Nevertheless, Sporting KC have their first tally in the win column in 2017 — and more importantly for some, their first goal.
BUT ABOUT THOSE LAST THREE MINUTES...
San Jose were absent their head coach on Saturday night. Dominic Kinnear missed the match after falling ill the morning of the match. A trio of Earthquakes assistants managed the sideline in his place.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Feilhaber isn't a robot. This we know. How do we know, you ask? He's too animated to be a robot. At least an effective robot. But he is the closest thing to a machine Sporting KC have. Not only was his goal sublime, breaking what was at the time a 216-minute scoreless drought to open the season, he's working all corners of the field to create angles for his teammates. Here's what that looked like:
He's able to move freely in the midfield (and elsewhere) because of several factors — Ilie, Roger Espinoza and the backline's consistent shape, just to name three. But his speciality is using that space to create in a way only a handful of players around the league can do. It's special — and tonight, Feilhaber was special.
"Was I shooting it? I'm not going to answer that. Don't ask silly questions," Feilhaber said with a grin on his face. "Of course I was shooting it. The fact that I hadn't shot the one right before it — looking back on it, I probably should've shot it — so I wanted to hit one. It kind of sat up nice. It obviously was a little bit further, but I wanted to hit a good one. As soon as I hit it, I saw Bingham moving to his near post — I'm not exactly sure why as well — so I knew if it just dipped at that point it was in. You've got to shoot to score, right?"
GIF OF THE MATCH
Away to Toronto FC on March 31