HOW IT PLAYED OUT
Expectations can be darndest things, can't they? Especially when they're astronomically absurd, and get spun up in such a short period of time.
Case in point: Sporting Kansas City entered Sunday's clash with Minnesota United FC having allowed three (!) goals in nine (!!!) matches, a rate that was always an aberration, and something that would not hold throughout the next few weeks, let alone the season.
Minnesota United FC, (somewhat) surging after a comically bad start to their MLS introduction thanks to defensive adjustments and personnel moves* made sure it didn't hold throughout the weekend, playing their best in a 2-0 victory where Sporting KC never really quite found its groove.
*cough cough stealing Sam Cronin from the Colorado Rapids cough cough
With no Graham Zusi and Ike Opara in the starting lineup, the Loons came in looking to torment and toy with Igor Juliao and Kevin Ellis. The idea: direct everything at Juliao in hopes that Ellis would get pulled out to help, leaving a gap of space between the center backs.
That's exactly what happened in the first 40 minutes. In the 22nd minute, Miguel Ibarra chased down a ball at the end line. Ellis gravitated that way in case Ibarra got by Juliao, which left Abu Danladi room inside the box to score the first goal against Sporting KC in a first half this season.
Seventeen minutes later, Juliao found himself in recovery mode on the right side as Minnesota's combination play left the fullback with his feet stuck in the turf. But to make matters worse this time, Ellis and Matt Besler got pulled out of position enough to force them to switch sides. Ellis thought about trying to switch back, but that indecision left enough of a cushion for Christian Ramirez to head in the Loons' second of the day.
Juliao's day was all but done at that point. He made way for Zusi who, along with Jimmy Medranda, helped Sporting KC fuel a proper effort pushing up the field. But it wasn't enough to overcome the early deficit.
MAN OF THE MATCH
It's not much of a consolation, but Seth Sinovic remains a steady cog in the Sporting KC system. While no one the backline was immune in the first half, Sinovic was active up and down the left side, which unsurprisingly is where much of Sporting KC's damage stemmed from on Sunday.
GIF OF THE MATCH
At Orlando City SC next Saturday, May 13