Standard disclaimer: My thoughts do not, in any way, reflect on any of my employers, paid or unpaid. Anyone who thinks they do isn't paying attention.
It may just be me, but I think things are finally starting to click for this club. The defensive decision-making is getting better and the offensive pressure is starting to pay off. In this match, Sporting KC managed to get off 18 shots, putting nine on target. If not for some good saves by Josh Saunders, this could have been closer to the 7-0 drubbing they received from NYRB.
And it's not just guys like Graham Zusi and Dom Dwyer that are scoring. Last week, Matt Besler got his first goal since the season finale in 2011. Tonight, Ike Opara got his first goal since getting the game-winner against NYCFC on the road on March 28, 2015, and Jimmy Medranda got the first goal of his MLS career on a shot from about 25 yards out.
The defensive performance tonight was outstanding. Sporting's defense held NYCFC to only four shots and 34 percent of the possession. That's the lowest percentage of the ball that NYC's had since they joined MLS last season. Tim Melia really didn't have that much to do all night, but he got the job done when he had to.
Speaking of Jimmy Medranda, I may give him flack over his shot selection (once tweeting that he'll take a shot from anywhere on the field, including the bench), but he's probably one of my favorite guys on the club.
He's one of the nicest guys on the club, and that's saying something with this group. He has also worked incredibly hard since he arrived from Deportivo Pereira in 2013. He's athletic and he's still very young, only having turned 22 in February. Jimmy still has a lot of upside and can get even better than he showed on the field tonight.
And even when I do give him flack on Twitter, he understands what I tell everybody I'm acquainted with. If I'm not giving you a hard time, it's because I don't like you.
Speaking to Ike in the locker room after he scored his first goal since he returned from his latest season-ending injury, he said he wanted to thank the fans for all of the messages they sent him. He said he loves the fans as much as they love him and wanted to thank them all individually.
In fact, during the standing ovation he received on his way off the field, he said deep down inside he was getting really emotional and had to "smile it out." He's incredibly appreciative of all the fans and how the club and coaching staff stood by him. But it's how he stood by himself that the rest of us appreciate about him.
Next up for the club is a mid-week match in Chicago to take on the Fire at Toyota Park before ending the week in Denver to play the Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. They will return home on Sunday, July 24, to play the Seattle Sounders at 2:00 on ESPN.
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