HOW IT PLAYED OUT
Seth Sinovic no longer only scores big goals in the playoffs. He's now scoring in the regular season, too. The veteran left back sliced a left-footed strike in between Colorado's Tim Howard and Kortne Ford early on Sunday night to set the tone, as Sporting Kansas City picked apart the Colorado Rapids all night long in a 3-1 victory.
With a little help later on from Tim Melia, who used his freak athleticism to stop a rising Dominique Badji header just before halftime, and Gerso, who finished a master-class counter attacking effort spearheaded by three excellent Dom Dwyer touches in the midfield, Sporting KC jumped out to a 2-0 lead with more than a half-hour to go. Dwyer later added another after he received an inch-perfect, curling cross from Sinovic.
In just 90 minutes, Sporting KC scored one more goal than it had the previous 270 minutes of action, and jumped three spots in the Western Conference, up to fourth. Not bad. The only thing missing was the club's fourth shutout in five games, which Sporting KC negated with an extra-time penalty that Kevin Doyle was able to convert.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Leading up to Sunday's match, Gerso had yet to make his mark in the final third. It wasn't that he struggled to put opposing full backs on their heels — in fact, he often dazzled in the build-up — he just couldn't get them out of their final stance and into a poor position. That changed quickly against the Rapids, though.
Sure, Gerso lucked out on his cross — with one of Howard or Kortne deflecting the in-swinger that found Sinovic wide open for the goal — but he was targeting his next pass with intent, meaning at a run, instead of simply firing into space. His goal in the second half showed he not only has a knack for anticipating where the build-up is going, but that he can also finish with quality — waiting to get close enough to Howard to freeze him before shooting.
"We talked about it at halftime. We said once we get a second goal we have to keep pushing and get another goal," Dwyer explained when asked about keeping the pedal down after going up two goals. "The guys did fantastic and kept feeding us chances up top, and we put some away."
BY THE NUMBERS
- 91 — Touches by Graham Zusi, which was a game high. Zusi also led both teams in shots with four. You don't expect those kind of numbers from a fullback, but when he's got the touch of a player who's spent time higher up the field playing in a press-first system, it provides an extra dynamic down the entire right side of the field.
- 91.2 — The combined passing percentage of Ilie and Roger Espinoza. Against a defensive-minded Rapids side, without your starting No. 10, Sporting KC could've fallen off in the midfield. Instead, Ilie and Espinoza ignited the attack with accuracy and intent.
- 5 — Tackles by Ike Opara. When healthy, Opara is a freak of nature athletically, and also a very smart defender. His long strides kept Badji and Doyle at bay all evening long.
GIF OF THE MATCH
At the Portland Timbers, April 15