|I shit you not, Noah Baumbach's Kicking and Screaming is EXCELLENT.|
What Sporting Kansas City v. FC Dallas lacked in heightened moments - ended knotted in zeroes again; like SKC wanna be this year's Colorado - it more than made up for in framing. Call it the bone-dry coming of age comedy to the action movie experience we all expect from spectator sports, but that we get less often than we’d like to admit.
All in all, Dallas had the better game – and not in the way that Sporting’s color commentary kept bitching that they did. Yeah, Dallas played conservative, maybe even safe, but they played the better game: they consistently had defenders where they needed them and they created the best, cleanest chances.
The other subplot in here is the one alluded to in the first paragraph. Dallas…hold on, but, true story, I’m looking at the graphic line-up for the first time (sorry, people on twitter; I just checked the names, not where they lined up), and now where I saw specific players totally makes sense, for all that, continuing, Dallas didn’t just play back-ups; they played first-year players and a freakin’ 17-year-old kid, Paxton Pomykal. And that’s the thing: KC played veterans, plus a couple guys who, by broad consensus, rate in MLS – e.g. Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, Roger Espinoza, Matt Besler, etc. Now re-read paragraph 2. And Pomykal? He looked just fine. Even cleaned Benny's clock around the 43rd. So, yeah. Fuck off, old people. Look, even if you think I’m crediting Dallas too much, it’s remarkable that the equivalent of a Dallas B-side played KC to a draw at home.
OK, moving on to talking points now…
Sporting Kansas City
- As noted in a couple tweets, Sporting dictated the game and did most of the probing. They had steady penultimate passes, and rated damn-near flawless on “pre-penultimate passes” (trademarking that one), but, per the logic, they failed on finals balls and “pre-final balls” (or just penultimate balls (this paragraph is lousy with band names)), and that’s why KC hasn’t scored for 180+ regular season minutes. This is where they were supposed to be better.
- Gerso Fernandes grew with the game; he seemed to gain confidence from that cross-shot that forced an awkward (yet still impressive; you are a pointless hardass KC Brit announcer) save from Dallas’ Jesse Gonzalez. This nudges me toward thinking he’ll find his feet in 2017.
- Latif Blessing shanked a good (if fortunate) set-up, but he also had a pretty dynamite first possession in the game, so, yeah, that’s both SKC’s new guys looking all right.
- Dwyer blasted two free kicks into the mid-section of the wall. Why is he taking free kicks? And I ask that from a decent familiarity with his skill set. He’s more opportunist than artist.
- Graham Zusi has looked great at right back over two full games. Like, great. It suits him.
- I wonder how good Ike Opara would be if it weren’t for the injuries. I view this as tragic.
- First and foremost, my concern about their defense is gone. No, KC aren’t attacking geniuses, but Dallas’ make-shift defense handled them entirely ably. And, no (KC announcer guy), I don’t care that they “came to disrupt.” KC was the home team, and playing their vets. Either Dallas’ kids did well, or SKC has real worries in their attack.
- Aaron Guillen was really goddamn impressive tonight. Every time I saw him, he did something right.
- Cristian Colman doesn’t play like a 9 (or whatever the fuck you call a target forward), and he also keeps playing short games (just over 60), but I think he’ll find his feet, too. His shot off the post was better than the SKC broadcast crew let on (it was behind him, asshole).
- I am starting to wonder about Kellyn Acosta’s ceiling. Like, really wonder. He never put a foot wrong during his short stint tonight; in fact, he put his foot one step above right every time.
- Jacori Hayes, by contrast, was invisible. He’s the “Darlington Nagbe replicant,” right? (See the #5 for reference.)
- Curious about how long Roland Lamah’s knock sticks around. He limped off…
Went on a bit longer than I wanted to, but all done. All in all, this felt like MLS 2.0 v. MLS 3.1 (or thereabouts). It’s possible that the real question is whether MLS 2.0 will still be playing when MLS 3.1 hits its peak. Strange times, people…