The Oz Blog View about stuff while living in the Land of Oz

2Nov/13Off

#SportingKC fall in playoff opener to the Revolution.

Taken from Sporting KCs Google+ page

Taken from Sporting KCs Google+ page

Well I know I've been slacking off this year especially towards the end of the season, but I have been keeping tabs of my team and figured I should get started posting again with the opening game of the playoffs. Not exactly the best game to get back to the whole writing thing, but not every game will always play out the way we would like. Now I've also been thinking about how I went about doing my post game reviews.

I don't want to say that Sporting lost this game thanks to the refs, but they sure didn't help matters. Sporting obviously can't rely on the refs and are expected to be able to win on their own. Sporting did what they needed to do, but just couldn't get the ball past the Revolution's GK in Matt Reis.

The Revolution on the other hand I believe won this game just from some good heads up and quick play, which is what Sporting normally does, but it seemed like Sporting was out of their element for a good portion of this game and almost seemed to be playing this game like it was a regular season match.

Luckily Sporting gets one more chance at their own stadium to move onto the Conference Final against either the NY Redbulls or the Houston Dynamo. They need to beat the Revs by at least one goal in order to send the game into extra time.

4Sep/13Off

Review: Sporting KC win a thrilling game against a fighting Rapids team

Taken from Sporting KC's Google+

Well this was quite the thrilling game. Colorado definitely made it a challenge for Sporting constantly pushing which is something that Sporting isn't completely use to but I think they almost welcomed it. Even after the Rapids were able to pull level with Sporting they didn't seem to panic and continued to play their game. The Rapids didn't seem to know how to capitalize on the opportunity though and figure out how to pull ahead. It did seem that Peter Vermes coach for Sporting might have been a bit in panic mode or maybe he just wanted to insure his team came out on top as he put in three strong offensive players and substituted three strong offensive players. Feilhaber, Dwyer and Saad all came off for Kamara, Sapong and Bunbury who really seemed to make the difference in this game and allowed Sporting to get the late go ahead goal. Again Colorado just couldn't seem to figure out then how to get another equalizer and their frantic play and pressing up the field almost assured Sporting to get the victory even with an additional four minutes of stoppage time.

It really was a good game and unfortunately it was Kei's last game in a Sporting uniform as he was transferred to Middlesbrough FC which is a club in the Championship League which is a second tier team in European soccer. No its not top flight but it is still a step up for Kei and it will also make international travel for Sierra Leone national team games easier for him.

Sporting now takes on the Columbus Crew who is definitely a team that has been struggling but this is the MLS and you never know who might be able to sneak in a victory or find a way to lose a game.

30Aug/13Off

Review: Sporting KC take down other CCL group opponent on the road in Olimpia

Taken from Sporting KC's Google+

Although it was late and I was very tired this was an interesting game to watch. What made it even better is that Sporting was able to secure yet another road victory, and shutout for that matter, to put themselves on top of their group with their final two group games being back at home. As one of the commentators pointed out though both the teams they have played are pretty much just getting their seasons started while Sporting is wrapping theirs up in a couple of months and their last two group games will most likely be a bit harder but with them being on top of the group with two wins they stand a good chance to move on already.

This game seemed to start off a bit rougher as Olimpia were pushing a bit harder then Real Esteli did in the previous match but in the 28th minute Sporting's up and coming star in Soony Saad was able to find the back of the next after passing a few defenders, while keeping possession of the ball, and slotting it right past the diving GK to put Sporting up 1-0. After that Olimpia just couldn't seem to completely get anything together with the exception of a couple drives that gave Sporting GK a little bit of a problem but nothing that came in the result for Olimpia. Dom Dwyer was able to give the defense some fits once he came into the game and was awarded a PK which Saad took and hit just hard enough that even the GK getting a hand to the ball wasn't enough to keep it from going in the goal and putting Sporting up 2-0 which would then hold till the final whistle.

30Aug/13Off

Review: Sporting KC fall to good heads up play by Fire’s Jumper.

Picture taken from Sporting KCs Google+ page.

Well I hate to say that I was afraid of this but really I was not. To be perfectly honest I didn't get to watch the entire game but did get to see the loan goal scored by what I described as a good heads up play by the Chicago Fire. Sporting was playing well but obviously not well enough to find the equalizer against the Fire. This now means that Sporting has lost 4 of the last 5 games with just 8 regular season games remaining not to mention a couple of CCL games as well. Hopefully they are getting their stumbling out of the way now so that they can hopefully be strong in the playoffs granted at this point they probably won't be the top seed, but I'm thinking they may not be worried about being the top seed but instead just want to make sure that they are solid and can preform.

23Aug/13Off

Preview: Sporting KC set to take on Chicago Fire for last time this season.

Cover Photo Google

Photo taken from Sporting KC's Google+ account and modified.

To be quite honest I am not 100% sure what to think about this game. The homer in me wants Sporting to go in there and just smoke the ever living shorts off of the Fire, but the realist in me is trying to be a bit smarter about it. Sporting has been fortunate lately to be able to beat Chicago a few times recently but it is never a tough match. Something that I also fear is that Sporting hasn't had a complete meltdown lately like they kind of did last year against the Union where they lost 0-4. I'm sure that Sporting still has a sour taste in their mouth from the San Jose loss and are looking to get back on track and stay on top and for that I can see Sporting winning this game. Now I don't want to say a score because I'm rarely correct on that but it is sure to be a good game. I'd probably be closer to saying that this game won't finish with 11 men for each team on the field then trying to guess the score.

22Aug/13Off

Review: Sporting KC falls to Buck Shaw Stadium

Image taken from Sporting KC Google+ page

Reread that title. Yeah I firmly believe that Buck Shaw Stadium is the reason why Sporting lost or more specifically the field. The field at Buck Shaw is one of the smallest in not just width but also length in all of MLS. Luckily San Jose is getting a new stadium very soon, I think for next year, but that didn't help Sporting out for this week as they played much like they played but they are so use to have so much space and not even on their own field but most of the MLS now and so Sporting wasn't able to get their normal flow going that they are use to that allows them to dominate games. That isn't to say that Sporting played terrible as the Earthquakes just about lucked into their goal and pretty much the only person that could score for their team did and that was Wondolowski.

Sporting now heads off to play another tough match against rival team Chicago Fire in Chicago and that is never an even match. Hopefully the supporters will have correct spelling this time.

16Aug/13Off

Preview: Sporting KC take on a struggling San Jose Earthquakes team

Picture taken from MLSsoccer.com

When I first saw this match up earlier this week I thought it was going to be a difficult and it still most likely will but it is surprising to me that San Jose is struggling so much this year. Granted I don't pay much attention to them especially with the Red Bulls and Union are hot on Sporting's tales so it will be a race to the finish line and then it will start all over for the playoffs.

I'm hoping that Sporting isn't coming into game thinking that San Jose will just be a push over like New England was because San Jose will make Sporting suffer with any miscue. Especially with Sporting being as banged up as they have been the last few weeks. I much rather them get the injuries out of the way now before they get to the postseason. I would like to think that Sporting could when this game but as I mentioned it depends if they overlook the Earthquakes for whatever reason then they will be luckily to get out of San Jose with even a draw.

16Aug/13Off

Review: Sporting KC takes down a 9 (almost 8) man Revs team who are still struggling

Photo from Sporting's social media pages

Picking up right where they left off back in Nicaragua Sporting KC came in and completely dominated a New England Revs team who the last few seasons has struggled but occasionally have a little form. Looking at this game you wouldn't think that the Revs have any form as they easily went down to Sporting and in more ways then just allowing Sporting to score three goals on them.

It had all but seemed like the game was over before the second half but that didn't keep the Revolution from attempting to do what ever they could to keep Sporting from scoring to include having two players sent off on separate occasions and almost had a third player sent off as the official thought that he was issuing a player a second yellow card. Had a third player of been sent off that would have meant that the Revs would have been down to just eight players which seems insane and Sporting probably would have been able to end the with a higher score than 3-0.

Two of the goals have seemed to come from the savior of Sporting KC. I say that as he has already scored seven goals now in a shortened season as Kei Kamara was still playing for Norwich at the beginning of the MLS season. The third goal for Sporting came from a beautiful Benny Feilhaber free kick, as Zusi is still sidelined with an injury, that he made look incredibly easy.

Hopefully Sporting is getting the momentum at the right time to finish out the season strong but the more important thing is that if they can continue to play in top form during the playoffs.

12Aug/13Off

Review: Sporting KC (reserves) take down Real Esteli in first CCL match

CONCACAF_Champions_League

Well I guess I can say that I was wrong. Really not that difficult. But WOW! Sporting came to play and not just the A team but with a line up that was filled with a lot of backups. Now like I said in my preview I was convinced that Sporting would be lucky to come out with a 1-1 draw especially with the way that Sporting had been playing. So it was a pleasant site, even if it was all grainy on my computer, to see Sporting come in and control the game the way we have gotten use to seeing them do the last couple of seasons. Both goals scored were quite interesting as if Opara's goal would have had any more of an angle on it then it probably would have stayed out of the goal and deflected off the post but it somehow tucked it's self into the upper 90 on the opposite side of the goal as the GK for Real Esteli just couldn't quite get to the ball in time. Dwyer having gained more playing time since being called back from his record setting loan to Orlando City was not only able to get the start but saw several chances and was finally able to net a goal making it two goals in two games and in different competitions which to me is quite unique. Eric Kronberg, who would undoubtably be a starting GK for most of the teams in the MLS but sits on Sporting's bench due to Nielsen being one of the MLS's top GKs, was rarely even called upon but when called upon did what he had to much like he normally does and helped Sporting secure the easily obtained road victory shutout.

Sporting needs to keep this type of play up not only in the CCL but also in the MLS play to ensure that they have a good seeding for the MLS playoffs and to keep their CCL hopes alive as long as they can. Judging from the past few seasons it will be a difficult task but as long as they are able to maintain this form they to should be able to at least make it out of the group stage which has them playing 3 more games.

7Aug/13Off

Preview: Sporting KC takes on Real Esteli FC in their first ever CONCACAF Champions League game

Sporting KC are set to kick off their first CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) campaign and it wouldn't appear that they have an easy road ahead of them. They start off play with their first two group games on the road with the first being against Real Esteli who play in the Nicaraguan Primera Division and although it is a small division only having eight teams in the league but having been around since the 1930s have quite the history with Real Esteli having won a total of 13 titles with most of them coming in the last 12 years. This will mark Real Esteli's 4th time in the CCL having appeared to never make it past the preliminary round or at least the group stage (new format).

I believe that Sporting could possibly get a result in Nicaragua but it will not be easy and to make things more difficult Sporting has some untimely absences in their roster with Kevin Ellis, Graham Zusi, Josh Gardner, and Paulo Nagamura all listed as out for this match up. The big absence for Sporting is obviously Zusi who has been playing a lot of time lately for the USMNT and makes a noticeable difference in games for Sporting especially after the most recent lost match against the NY Redbulls. So if Sporting could go into Real Esteli's stadium (or if you want to say estadio) and get maybe even a 1-1 draw then that would be a very favorable outcome. I would even be willing to say that a 0-1 lost to Real Esteli would be a manageable result especially since Sporting will still get another chance to redeem themselves later in the year against Real Esteli at Sporting Park which is just a little bit bigger than Real Esteli stadium of approx 5,000.