A lot of the talk the last few days about today's game has centered around the "throwaway" nature of the game. No one wants the regular starters to get hurt before the US Open Cup final on Wednesday. Benny Feilhaber and Matt Besler got yellows in Houston making them unavailable because of card accumulation. Tim Melia, after playing in Houston, got held out today. Basically, hardly anyone gave Sporting KC much of a chance against the Sounders.
I say "hardly anyone," because the reserve players being called on to play the match gave themselves a chance. In fact, in the locker room after the game, midfielder Mikey Lopez said they used the discussion of the throwaway game as motivation. Frankly, combined with their normal "trying to show the coach I'm worthy of more playing time" effort, it was good enough for a draw. Except for a few unlucky bounces, it could have been good enough for a win.
Something else it does is make Peter Vermes's job that much harder to pick a lineup down the stretch. Let's just say it's a problem Peter doesn't mind having.
In about the 85th minute, SKC goalkeeping coach John Pascarella was dismissed from the team's bench. Steve and I saw him in the locker room after the game and asked him if he'd gotten sent off, and JP said it was pretty much an annual thing. I asked him what he said to get sent off and he said, "He was offside." One thing I love about JP (and most of the coaches), they'll tell you what they think, not what you want to hear.
If there was one moment you could look to and say, "That's the moment I knew Sporting might get a result," you'd probably point to the 74th minute entrance of forward Dom Dwyer.
Dom is one of those players that changes a match just by being on the pitch. He seems to make the players around him better just by his work rate and his passion. He's also never satisfied with his own effort and always wants more.
It showed in his goal in the 79th minute to tie the match at 1-1. After the match, Dom described the goal this way:
"It was a great play between Jake [Peterson] and Amadou [Dia] down the line. Jake got Amadou in behind and, in training every week, he shows that he can split that ball in-between the goalkeeper and the center backs. I checked away and checked far post and he sent it in perfectly. I just had to slide in and run it into the goal."
Dom said the coaches were telling him to simply come in and make a difference and try to get something in the game. He did that, but again, wasn't satisfied. He said, "I got a bit, but I wanted another one and should have gotten another one. I’m pleased to get a goal, but I definitely wanted another one there."
Next up for the club is the US Open Cup final on Wednesday at PPL Park in Chester, PA. If a full-strength Sporting KC lineup goes into Philly and plays the way they've shown they're capable of, popular wisdom says they will light Philly up like a Christmas tree.
While it may be popular wisdom, Philly is also a team that really has nothing to lose. They're in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and don't really have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Teams like that are scary in that they have a knack for doing the seemingly impossible.