A loss in the Kansas City isn't the end of the world after three straight victories but wasted opportunities and lack of clarity in the final third make this game more frustrating than the score and the statistics indicate. Sporting held a 57-43 possession advantage over ninety minutes but the Fire showed that they have enough in the attack to create chances although they also showed that they are capable of not taking advantage of those when presented.
Through the first seven games of the season, the lead striker (or any striker for that matter) has yet to score a goal. Guly do Prado, Quincy Amarikwa, and Kennedy Igboananike have yet to really show that any of them present a long term solution if the Fire are set to seriously contend for much this season. While the Fire won the last three at home, they are now 0-3 on the road and 0-4 against Western Conference opponents.
“I think we created some good chances to score,” said Frank Yallop after the match. “It’s frustrating when we don’t really hit the target when we should in certain areas.”
Without David Accam next weekend against Real Salt Lake as a result of a dubious red card ejection in the 89th minute, the Fire will need to find other ways to generate attack and the forward play will need to be several steps above what has been shown this year. “The final ball and the final touch is what’s missing right now,” said Yallop. “I think we’re not really there to bury the final ball. It’s our Achilles heel right now.”
With Mike Magee on the mend there may be some help on the way but even that is still several weeks in the distance. The challenge for someone to take control of the forward position will be on full display next Saturday against RSL at home.
GK Sean Johnson (6) – Two saves in the game. The stop of Sinovic’s shot in the 50th minute was the better of the two. Had little chance on Nagamura’s header.
D Eric Gehrig (5) – Better in this match in terms of positioning and defense than he has been in previous matches but he still seemed to lose the 5’-8” Nagamura on the game winner.
D Jeff Larentowicz (6) – A handful of key blocks denying clear shots at goal, the Fire defense did a fairly good job of limiting clear looks at goal. Nagamura’s header and Dwyer’s missed header in the 32nd were the best chances on the night.
D Adailton (6) – Dwyer, Nemeth, Zusi, and Feilhaber didn’t have many big chances despite the open play and SKC advantage in possession.
D Joevin Jones (5) – Got caught too far inside and didn’t get out to close the space quickly enough on the SKC goal allowing Anibaba to take his time and pick out a cross for the goal. Got forward a bit in the second half but SKC seemed to be waiting for him.
M Matt Polster (5) – Not as influential as he has been in previous games. The Fire only completed 63% of their passes but Sporting only completed 74%. Neither side was very crisp when needed, which is why the score was only 1-0 despite the mostly open play.
M Chris Ritter (5) – Provided good service on a two crosses. One in the 19th that found Gehrig for a header and another in the 53rd intended for Larentowicz.
M Harry Shipp (5.5) – The Fire needed a little more imagination in the final third. Only completed 67% of his passes but that may be attributed to his willingness to try things differently. Had a good look in the 39th that sailed high of goal.
M David Accam (5.5) – The straight red card call was very soft. Sporting KC defended the Fire attack by crowding Accam and Shipp and not allowing them to fully open things up as they have over the last three games. Probably should have drawn a second yellow on Sinovic when he was grabbed from behind to stop a scoring chance in the 62nd. Led a 3v3 attack in the 82nd in which he seemed to hold on to the ball too long but a closer look shows the Fire attackers crowding space with their runs rather than creating room.
F Shaun Maloney (5) – Didn’t see enough of the ball although he wasn’t as influential as he should have been with SKC focused on Accam. Didn’t have a bad game but more is expected.
F Guly do Prado (4.5) – Had one good chance in the 13th but his shot was stopped by Melia and the ball caromed dangerously in front of goal. The rest of the night was spent ignoring the offside rule. Late or ineffective runs also dashed attacks in the area.
F Quincy Amarikwa (4.5) – Subbed in for do Prado in the 72nd and didn’t fare much better. Had a chance to either find the target or a teammate in the 82nd but wasted the opportunity with a shot/cross that wasn’t close.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5) – Entered the match for Ritter in the 77th. Didn’t get many touches as the substitution may have come too late. He was one of the runners, along with Amarikwa, in the botched 3v3 in the 82nd.
D Lovel Palmer (5) – Replaced Gehrig in the 85th in hopes of adding more to the attack.