Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Closeout Special on Aisle Nine

Thoughts on the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo. Thoughts are only my own (unless cited) and should reflect on no one with either club.


As my friend and colleague Steve Brisendine of MLSsoccer.com says, it's in the rules that Hatredball can't finish 11-v-11. That condition of this match was met in the 30th minute when Luis Garrido was given a straight red card for a two-footed, studs up tackle on Sporting KC's Amadou Dia. Even Houston manager Owen Coyle said after the match that it was a straight red and he didn't have a problem with it, other than having to deal with going down a man for an hour.

What Coyle did have a problem with was the match not ending 10-v-10. In the 69th minute, both Houston's Brad Davis and Sporting KC's Roger Espinoza were given yellow cards. Davis was cited for dissent and Espinoza for unsporting behavior. Coyle said he saw Espinoza punch Davis in the face, which would warrant, in my opinion, a straight red card for Espinoza.

Davis told reporters after the game, "I don’t know what he’s doing, to be totally honest there. I’m not going to go into it a whole lot, but you can go back and probably watch it and see yourself."

At the time, Houston had a 1-0 lead. Had Espinoza been sent off, it probably would have changed the game quite a bit. As it was, Benny Feilhaber's 72nd minute strike from distance tied the game and the club didn't really ever look back.


Some people will say they knew the game wasn't going to extra time when Dom Dwyer scored in the 86th minute. I would say that I already knew and Coyle did too.

When Brad Davis came off for Mauro Manotas in the 77th minute, that was Houston's third and final substitution. The fact that Coyle didn't save any subs at all for extra time tells me he thought the game would finish in the 90 minutes, and that is what convinced me. The two goals from Dwyer and Nemeth were just confirmation of what I already knew.


Across all competitions, this quarterfinal match was the team's ninth straight home win across all competitions. The club has played 13 home matches in their 2015 campaign and have yet to lose, going 7-0-3 in league matches and winning all three of their Cup games.

All the winning makes it much easier to write about these games, but I'm sure it makes it much easier to play them as well. Players said as much in the locker room after the game, going so far as to say they didn't want to let themselves down or let the fans down. They say they feed off of the energy from the fans and that fuels the success on the field.


I spoke with new acquisition Amobi Okugo in the locker room after the game. He seems to be a good, down-to-earth guy, one of those good guys Peter Vermes seems to value so much when putting the team together.

When he first found out that he'd been traded to KC, he said he was excited. When asked if he'd spoken to former player Aurelien Collin about what to expect, Okugo said he hadn't had time, but Collin had been talking about Kansas City all season. Okugo even said Collin had left his heart here (Take that, San Francisco) and felt at home here. That should be of some comfort to the fans he left behind.

Okugo also said he was going to be wearing the number 20. I hope he's ready for the expectations that come with that number around here, considering the last guy to wear that number regularly was Uri Rosell. Hope it works out.


Up next for Sporting KC is its third match in seven days with a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, to take on Real Salt Lake. Salt Lake will be without Kyle Beckerman, but Kansas City will still be without Graham Zusi. Kickoff is set for 10:00 p.m. on Friday.

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