KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Run down the stat sheet, and the numbers look like a rout for Sporting Kansas City.
Advantages in shots (19-8), shots on goal (5-3) and corners (7-1). An 80 percent passing completion rate, and more than 61 percent of the possession.
But there was the scoreline – Philadelphia Union 1, Sporting 0 – leaving the hosts to rue yet another home match where they dominated everywhere but the scoreboard.
“I don't have any negative comments when it comes to the players' commitment on the field, their work ethic, and the opportunities they created,” manager Peter Vermes said in his postmatch news conference. “All that was great. But on the attack side, we just weren't clinical enough to score. And you need to score. You need to put the ball in the back of the net.
“When you have that many chances, you have that much of the game, you have that much pressure on the other team, you've got to score to open up the game,” he went on. “We put too much pressure on ourselves defensively by not scoring earlier. And their goalkeeper came up with some big saves, so credit to him as well.”
Union 'keeper Zac MacMath did have a sparkling night, making five saves and earning his MLS-leading 11th clean sheet. But Sporting also put 11 shots off target – some by narrow margins, but many well over the bar from close range.
“We got unlucky in the first half, had a few that could have bounced either way,” forward Dom Dwyer said. “I had a header that flicked on and hit a couple of arms, but I guess the ref didn't see it. Then I had a bunch in the second half that I should have put away, and I know that.
“I had five or six headers off target. That's my game. I have to score them.”
Nobody connected for Sporting, though – and when Dwyer lost a ball in midfield in the 36th minute, Conor Casey made them pay for it with his game-winning putback on the resulting counterattack – Philadelphia's first goal in 346 minutes.
“You're watching the game, you're playing the game, and you know that's the only thing they're looking for,” said Sporting midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who had a bending free kick knocked away by MacMath in the 14th minute. “They're not pressing anybody. They're just sitting 11 guys behind the ball, just waiting for one break, and we gave them that opportunity by losing the ball in midfield.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.