Record-setting possession performances from Sporting KC, Uri Rosell lead to dominant road win
MONTREAL — They leave Montreal with three points, a couple of MLS passing records, and the Eastern Conference lead – and without having to expend too much extra effort ahead of their next match four days from now.
On top of that, Sporting Kansas City will get to keep winger Graham Zusi and centerback Matt Besler, both locks to be called into the United States' World Cup squad early next week, for Wednesday's home date with Philadelphia.
On the whole, then, Saturday wasn't a bad day at all for Sporting, who drubbed the reeling Montreal Impact 3-0.
The game turned in the 17th minute, when Montreal midfielder Collen Warner was sent off for an intentional handball on the goal line.
Dom Dwyer converted the ensuing penalty, the first of his two goals on the day, and the rout was on. It was a disciplined affair, though, with Sporting passing up numerous opportunities to go forward in favor of rolling up 78 percent of the possession and conserving energy for Wednesday.
“People think that it's very easy to play a man up in a game, and it actually is very difficult most of the time,” manager Peter Vermes told reporters in a conference call after the match. “Because what it does is, it galvanizes the team that is a man down. They find a way to bunker in and counter, and normally the team that is a man up, they get a little relaxed.
“I thought for the first few minutes after we went a man up, we were still trying to drive full attack, and we were still forcing the game a little bit,” he added. “But then we started to move the ball a little better. After that, I thought we were excellent in possession. We were patient, but at the same time we had a purpose in the way we moved forward and we did a good job on the defensive end not to give anything away.”
Sporting attempted 803 passes and completed 739, both records since Opta started keeping MLS stats in 2011. Defensive midfielder Uri Rosell led the way by completing 160 of his 166 attempts, also both records.
- OPTA Chalkboard: Rosell dominant in possession (160 of 166 completed)
“His biggest quality is that he finds himself always in the right positions to receive the ball in space, and always with options once he gets the ball,” Vermes said. “He knows before he gets it where he wants to play it, so from that perspective that's one of the reasons why he's been good in our team.
“There are some other players as well that make it easier for him now to play,” Vermes said. “When you have Benny [Feilhaber] next to him, [Paulo] Nagamura – you just keep going through the guys with a real understanding of how and what the purpose is, for one guy to receive the ball and the options they have. He's very good, but he's got a lot of good players around him to play with.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.