Photo courtesy of Brian Davidson/Sporting Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Omar Bravo may have a special place in his heart for Chivas de Guadalajara, but he didn’t pull punches Wednesday night comparing Sporting Kansas City to his former side.
As one of Chivas’ all-time best, a former stalwart on the Mexican national team and a recent arrival in Major League Soccer, perhaps no one is better equipped than Bravo to comment on the attitude toward MLS from south of the border.
And, according to both Bravo and the stat sheet, Sporting controlled play against the Goats at Livestrong Sporting Park, settling for a 2-2 draw as a result of shaky finishing and two silly defensive mistakes rather than being outplayed.
“With all due respect, we were superior as a team tonight,” Bravo said after the match. “I said it before, sometimes there is a lot of ignorance that MLS is inferior soccer, but games like this show that the level of the league is actually higher than people think it is.”
Chivas manager Fernando Quirarte, who was at the helm for just his second game, said he was happy with the way his team played and the intensity of the match for the most part, but made a point to comment on Kansas City’s physical nature and high-pressure tactics.
The two sides combined for five yellow cards and plenty of rough play throughout, all of which was punctuated by Craig Rocastle’s scything tackle from behind on Guadalajara’s Erick Torres in second-half extra time that resulted in a red card for the Sporting substitute.
“They’re a good team,” Quirarte said. “I thought that the game was a little risky, a little violent at the end. Being a friendly match, I thought they could have been a little more careful so we could protect our players.”
In what can likely be chalked up to a difference in playing style from league to league, Kansas City manager Peter Vermes had no such trepidation about the physicality or pace of the game, pointing out that the visitors made some reckless challenges of their own.
“It was one of those games,” Vermes said. “I’m glad that our guys fought. I’m happy about that aspect. It is what it is. Sometimes you’ve got to lay the wood, and that’s what [Rocastle] did.”
And despite spirited play from both sides, neither seemed particularly concerned about the result, preferring to shift their focus to crucial weekend fixtures.
Still, Bravo maintained that Kansas City deserved to win, but he also joked that the result would go a long way toward keeping things civil between himself and his former teammates.
“It’s good this way so they won’t hate me,” he said, a smile creeping across his face. “A tie is good. No one is mad at each other.”
Ellis scores first goal for Sporting
Rookie Kevin Ellis hasn’t made a league appearance for Kansas City since signing a Home Grown contract during the preseason, but that didn’t keep him from playing hero for at least a few minutes on Wednesday.
With the visitors leading 2-1 with five minutes left, Ellis won a free kick just outside the penalty area with a neat piece of footwork. Jeferson whipped the ball into a dangerous area, forcing Chivas goalkeeper Víctor Hugo Hernández into an awkward save, and Ellis found himself with the simplest of finishes to open his Kansas City account and honor his mother, who passed away earlier this season, in the process.
“I was just finishing my run, and it ended up at my feet,” he said. “All I had to do was run into it, really. I felt like it went in the goal in slow motion. I just couldn’t believe it. When the ball went in the back of the net, all I was thinking about was my mom. Just doing it for her and how blessed I am to be playing this game.”