KANSAS CITY, Kan. – This one felt different. Not good, just … not all that bad, either.
On Friday, Sporting Kansas City were fuming after giving up a stoppage-time equalizer in their 2-2 home draw with Toronto FC. But on Tuesday night, also at Sporting Park, the general consensus was that a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls was a fair result.
“That last game, we should have taken three points,” midfielder Paulo Nagamura told reporters. “I think this game was more even. We dominated the first half, and in the second half they created some chances and scored a goal. After that, it was just two teams with heavy legs trying to create something and not being successful.
“Definitely, it's frustrating because we were playing at home and we should go for the three points every time. But at the end of the day we got a point and that's going to count at the end of the year.”
Sporting went up 1-0 in the ninth minute on Toni Dovale's first MLS goal, but that was after they'd already been denied twice by goalmouth clearances and seen Benny Feilhaber's blistering free kick carom off the underside of the wall – all in the first six minutes.
So when New York's Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his league-leading 11th goal in the 50th minute, that was all the Red Bulls needed to split the points.
“Obviously, 2-0's a big difference to 2-1,” Feilhaber said. “But nevertheless, after they tied it I think we played a pretty good game the last 30-35 minutes to try and get one more. We were a bit unlucky, and it wasn't to be. We'll move on. We've got D.C. on Saturday, and we've got to get ready for that.”
Manager Peter Vermes took a similarly balanced tack in his postgame news conference, while also noting Sporting's ongoing personnel struggles – including losing defender Chance Myers for the year with a torn left Achilles tendon sustained in Friday's draw.
- Get the latest SKC news at SportingKC.com
“In the first 30-35, we were good,” he said. “The last nine minutes in the half – it was like 36 minutes, right at the 36-minute mark – we gave possession away every time we got the ball. We probably strung two passes together, we gave it away, two passes, gave it away. And then the second half, after they scored, they still had a little bit of momentum. And then it changed and I thought we started going at them again and started to have some opportunities.
“We are getting the most out of what we can right now,” Vermes continued, “and with the different people we have in the game and trying to deal with a lot of injuries in regards to the middle of the park, it's never easy.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.