Sporting Kansas City
On Tuesday, I noted that Uri Rosell has done superb work cleaning up messes in the central midfield for Sporting KC which, in all honesty, was one of the big questions for that team headed into the season.
Thanks to his work (and Paolo Nagamura, and Benny Feilhaber, and Peterson Joseph, and even a little bit of Lawrence Olum), attacking KC up the gut is still a no-go. But attacking from out wide doesn't work so great, either:
|Sporting Kansas City||268|
|San Jose Earthquakes||221|
|New York Red Bulls||208|
|Real Salt Lake||189|
|New England Revolution||175|
|Seattle Sounders FC||148|
Obviously, this doesn't mean SKC are unbeatable. They can be had, especially in transition, and their attack still isn't clicking the way Peter Vermes must have hoped it would heading into the season.
But they still get the basics right. And that's why they'll be at or near the top of the Eastern Conference through the rest of the season.
Welcome to a new series on MLSsoccer.com, where each week we'll take a look at some of the best images from the week that was in Major League Soccer. Here's a look back at the best shots from May 11-12, and check back every Monday as the series continues.
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath (center) skies to take the ball off the head of Chicago's Gonzalo Segares during the Union's 1-0 win at Toyota Park.
Felipe's 39th minute goal wasn't the game-winner for Montreal against Real Salt Lake last weekend - far from it, in fact, in what turned out to be a 3-2 thriller - but the Brazilian celebrated in style, playing up to Impact fans behind the corner flag.
The backflip goal celebration is nothing new to the world of soccer, but it's always spectacular when it gets thrown out on the field. Seattle Sounders forward Obafemi Martins broke out the celebration during Seattle's 4-0 romp over San Jose.
We already knew Vancouver Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks (right) could jump over the top of MLS defenders, but we had yet to see him jump chest high on Omar Gonzalez and throw a freeze frame pose at us. Now we have.
Don't lose focus of that ball, Bobby Shuttlesworth. Stare right on down that tunnel and don't break eye contact.
I'm just praying that Columbus Crew midfielder Matias Sanchez stuck the landing on this splitting dismount, and didn't rip the seat of his pants.
Well, see what had happened was.... FC Dallas midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson (left) really wanted to win the ball, but then Dwayne De Rosario told him, "Shoulder ride's over, pal," and dropped him like a sack of potatoes.
Portland Timbers midfielder Rodney Wallace (right) is in the form of his life of late. So much so, that he's carrying the entire Timbers team on his back right now. Literally, and figuratively.
This is Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City in a nutshell, right here. Mechack Jerome (left) wins the ball in the air, gets upended and slams heavily to the ground. Sporting got slammed to the ground a few times, but won, 1-0.
It's something of a transition year for Sporting KC, as they commit a little more fully to building chances from possession, rather than forcing chances via turnover.
That said, forcing midfield turnovers is still a huge part of their game, their high pressure still works, and someone still needs to do the dirty work in the midfield. Uri Rosell, the Barcelona product, has been more than happy to do that particular job:
Leading the league in recoveries is no small thing – Ozzie Alonso's done it each of the last two years, and is rightly regarded as one of the two best d-mids in the league. But Rosell could push himself into that conversation if he keeps playing at this level.
Dax McCarty, by the way, probably already belongs in that conversation. He was second in recoveries to Alonso last season, and would be leading the league this year if he hadn't missed the past couple of games through injury. It's fairly amazing that the Red Bulls have coped so well without him.
There might not be a "Most Interesting Man in MLS Award" at the conclusion of each and every Major League Soccer season (there should be, by the way), but if there was, Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen would be a worthy finalist for the award, year after year. And Nielsen got just that much more interesting on Tuesday afternoon when The Guardian's Paolo Bandini announced that he has been working in partnership with the 35-yeard old Danish keeper to write his second autobiography, Welcome To The Blue Heaven.
— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) May 14, 2013
— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) May 14, 2013
Just ask anyone who's spent more than five minutes with Nielsen; they'll tell you the only thing more infectious and inspiring than his net-minding on the field, is his friendly and lovable personality off it. Needless to say, this is a book that you're going to want to get your hands on and breeze right through.
The official release form Ascend Books, publisher of Welcome To The Blue Heaven, states the book will range from topics, but not limited to, Nielsen's past gambling addiction that almost cost him his career, the trials and tribulations it caused amongst his family, the woman - his wife - that stuck by his side and helped him piece his life back together, and a whole new lease on life and career found in - of all places - the United States' Heartland, that has seen him become one of the club's all-time fan favorites and finally a Cup-winning captain.
Sporting Kansas City forward Kei Kamara was first to break the news of Nielsen's book, tweeting out a picture of his copy last week, followed up by this picture with the subject at hand, and the first ever signed copy of Welcome To The Blue Heaven:
— KEI KAMARA (@keikamara) May 11, 2013
There's only one thing that could be a more interesting time than Nielsen's autobiography itself, and that's the Jimmy Nielsen book tour, which kicks off later this month and into the summer at various Kansas City retailers.
You can order your copy of Welcome To The Blue Heaven on Amazon, for $24.95.
Statistics are often overlooked in soccer, and we here at MLSsoccer.com think that's too bad.
So each Monday, we'll be bringing you five of the most telling stats following the previous weekend's round of games. They might be about the individual game itself, a team's recent run of results or an individual player lighting it up. This week, we've got all three.
Here's five key stats from Week 11:
- 25 players have scored 3 or more goals in MLS 2013 so far. Five of the 25 – exactly one-fifth – are Portland Timbers players. [Mike Donovan, @TheMikeDonovan]
The five players are Ryan Johnson, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe. The New York Red Bulls come in a close second with four players (Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Fabián Espíndola and Jámison Olave). To make up for those two hogging all the three-goal scorers, Chivas USA, Seattle, Vancouver, Colorado, D.C. United, Chicago and New England have a combined zero. Ouch.
- With Sunday night's victory against the Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City have now handed MLS opponents their first loss at a new stadium at six different stadiums: BBVA Compass Stadium, BMO Field, Qwest Field, Rio Tinto Stadium, Robertson Stadium (Houston Dynamo) and Spartan Stadium (San Jose Earthquakes). [Sporting Kansas City]
Quite rude of them to crash house parties in such a manner, really.
- Jack McInerney's game-winning goal against the Chicago Fire on Saturday was his 15th goal in 30 appearances since John Hackworth took over as Philadelphia Union head coach for Peter Nowak last June. [Philadelphia Union]
Jack Mac has done everything in his power to earn a US national team call-up for this summer's Gold Cup. It would be more than a mild shock if his early season form doesn't translate to his first senior team cap. Are you paying attention, Jurgen?
- Following their 3-2 road loss to the Montreal Impact on Saturday, Real Salt Lake have yet to win in Canada in the club's history, moving to 0-6-4 in 10 matches across all competitions north of the border. [Real Salt Lake]
The math is in their favor, though; only one Canadian team resides in the Western Conference, so they'll avoid Toronto FC and Montreal for a second (and/or third) time in the regular season as well as the playoffs, barring an MLS Cup meeting.
- The San Jose Earthquakes have won just one of their past eight games, a stretch that includes three losses. During their Supporters' Shield-winning 2012 campaign, the fewest games they won during an eight-game stretch was four, and that run was without a loss.
For context's sake, the 2012 stretch came during the final eight games of the season with the Supporters' Shield already won and San Jose resting starters for the playoffs. Granted, it's still early in the season, but the Earthquakes are well behind their 2012 pace of 1.94 ppg (1.17 so far in 2013), which is a difference of 26 points over a 34-game season.
Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.
In case you haven't heard, Sporting Kansas City ended the Houston Dynamo's 36-game home unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday night. The 73rd-minute goal, which came courtesy of Sporting KC defender Aurélien Collin, ended the Dynamo's MLS record streak that spanned 22 months of play in all competitions.
Immediately after the game, a clever little bug in the Sporting KC communications department took to Twitter to gloat about ending the Dynamo's reign of terror in H-Town.
Sorry about your streak @houstondynamo. It was fun while it lasted.
— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) May 13, 2013
The "streak" also pertains, coincidentally, to a another streak of five matchups, dating back to September 10, 2011, the last time Sporting defeated the Dynamo. That particular stretch included a 2012 regular-season loss, two draws and a pair of playoff eliminations in back-to-back years at Sporting Park. Sporting did manage to defeat the Dynamo, 1-0, in the second leg of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals, but were knocked out 2-1 on aggregate.
Houston, however, had the last Twitter laugh of the night, just as they did in the 2011 and 2012 playoffs.
— HoustonDynamo (@HoustonDynamo) May 13, 2013
L’émission Coup Franc de cette semaine (à écouter ici) est consacrée en grande partie à Houston. Pour peaufiner l’analyse, nous vous invitons à lire le blog de Vision du Jeu, sur lequel nous nous sommes basés également et qui fournit des données et des exemples clairs.
- Finaliste de la Coupe MLS ces deux dernières années, le club est-il encore armé pour jouer les premiers rôles ?
- Son début de saison pas toujours convaincant, marqué par plusieurs absences d’éléments importants
- Une équipe prévisible qui passe systématiquement par les côtés, est efficace en attaque posée mais manque de vitesse
- Sa défense, ni particulièrement mauvaise ni particulièrement bonne, qui peine à subir le jeu
- Les individualités de l’équipe qui se démarquent
- On tente de comprendre pourquoi Houston est imbattable à domicile mais plus friable à l’extérieur
On ne pouvait (évidemment) pas ne pas revenir sur la victoire 6-0 de Montréal contre Toronto en Championnat canadien Amway, le changement d’état d’esprit par rapport au match aller, ses conséquences pour les deux clubs, etc.
Autre gros sujet de discussion cette semaine : le retour de Kei Kamara à Kansas City. Écoutez aussi la chanson qui lui a été consacrée lors de son séjour en Angleterre. La première période des transferts vient de prendre fin : quels sont selon vous les meilleurs renforts engagés ces derniers mois ?
Want some free Chipotle? Sporting KC's Kei Kamara is back from Norwich and he's footing the burrito bill
"What?! You don't want free Chipotle?"
That's what I imagine Kei Kamara is saying in the above photo from Monday's press conference in Kansas City to welcome the fan favorite back into the Sporting fold.
There's a reason Kamara and his heart-shaped hands are beloved in Kansas City. He does things like offer all his Twitter followers free Chipotle.
Come one, come all. And leave your wallet at home. Kei's picking up the tab!
Dinner party at Chipotle on the plaza tonite 6:30pm. Leave you piggy bank at home and bring ya empty belly. #ChipotlePartyWithKei
— KEI KAMARA (@keikamara) May 6, 2013
Derrière Dallas, en tête avec 20 points en 9 rencontres et au repos ce week-end, on a assisté à un regroupement général avec quatre équipes qui comptent 17 unités, mais toutes n’ont pas joué autant.
Au classement « par points perdus », seul Montréal rivalise avec les Texans. Les Québécois ont néanmoins laissé deux unités à San José, déplacement difficile s’il en est, en concédant le partage 2-2 alors qu’ils menaient 0-2, ce qui n’a pas empêché l’entraîneur Marco Schällibaum de qualifier d’héroïque la prestation de ses hommes.
Une des bonnes opérations de la dernière journée a été réalisée par Houston, vainqueur 0-1 au LA Galaxy. Tally Hall a été au cœur du tournant du match, en provoquant un penalty puis en arrêtant l’envoi mièvre de Landon Donovan. Pour la deuxième fois de la saison, un coup de réparation raté par le joueur désigné américain a coûté cher à ses couleurs. Comme Hall, le gardien de New York Luis Robles a arrêté un penalty et est passé du trente-sixième dessous à Toronto à héros des siens lors de la victoire à Columbus.
La fin de semaine a aussi été excellente pour Kansas City : non seulement les Ciel et Marine ont-ils atomisé Chivas USA 4-0, mais en outre ont-ils appris le retour de Kei Kamara. On ne peut pas en dire autant de Vancouver, qui n’a plus gagné depuis sept rencontres : la sortie à Salt Lake fut tellement lamentable que Martin Rennie a exigé de ses joueurs qu’ils présentent leurs excuses aux supporters.
Portland - New England
Columbus - New York
San José - Montréal
Philadelphie - Seattle
Salt Lake - Vancouver
Colorado - Toronto
Kansas City - Chivas USA
LA Galaxy - Houston
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo
Même au repos, Dallas bouclera en tête du classement général une semaine de championnat amorcée ce jeudi soir par un partage blanc entre Portland, qui a tout essayé, et New England, sauvé par son gardien Bobby Shuttleworth.
Le sommet du week-end se jouera dimanche soir sur ESPN2, avec une affiche identique à celle de la dernière Coupe MLS entre le LA Galaxy et Houston. Admiratifs du jeu offensif de leur adversaire, les Texans pourraient retrouver leur ancien joueur Colin Clark, transféré cet hiver en Californie où il a cependant rapidement perdu sa place.
Auréolé de sa plantureuse victoire contre Toronto, Montréal est heureux de récupérer Matteo Ferrari et continuera à faire tourner son effectif à l’occasion de son déplacement à San José privé des suspendus Alan Gordon et Steven Lenhart, qui s’est fait recadrer par Frank Yallop en raison de ses écarts de conduite.
Autre duel intéressant de ce samedi, celui diffusé par NBCSN opposant deux équipes qui n’ont pas encore tout à fait répondu aux attentes : Columbus, où Glauber accumule les cartons jaunes mais ne compte pas changer, et New York, qui récupérera Juninho.
Dimanche après-midi sur Unimas, Kansas City sera en quête de rédemption après sa défaite contre Portland, en accueillant Chivas USA où le gardien Dan Kennedy vient de prolonger son contrat jusqu’en 2016.
LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Portland - New England 0-0
Samedi 4 mai
16h00 : Columbus - New York
16h00 : San José - Montréal
16h00 : Philadelphie - Seattle
21h00 : Salt Lake - Vancouver
21h00 : Colorado - Toronto
Dimanche 5 mai
17h00 : Kansas City - Chivas USA
23h00 : LA Galaxy - Houston
Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
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