By DAVID GUBALA
Sporting Kansas City completed the impressive climb from last place in the Eastern Conference to first place with their latest victory at Livestrong Park, and the star was a player KC will need to shine if they plan on staying in first place.
Teal Bunbury's sophomore season has been disappointing given the expectations of his second season as a pro, but he showed again on Saturday why he's considered one of the best young players in MLS. Bunbury scored a pair of goals while rookie C.J. Sapong added an insurance tally to lead Sporting KC to a 3-0 win over Houston on Saturday in a match-up of teams locked in a title playoff battle.
The victory moved Sporting KC into a tie for first place with suddenly struggling Columbus, though the Crew have a game in hand. Houston's latest road loss has the Dynamo in 9th place in the playoff standings, but perilously close to falling out a playoff spot.
Dynamo goalkeeper Terry Hall was given quite a test in the early stages of the game. Omar Bravo and Jeferson both managed to find enough space to give ago at Hall, however the efforts were a little less than desired.
Sporting KC opened the scoring when Graham Zusi perfectly picked out a streaking Bunbury, who beat defender Ande Hainault before sending his shot past Tally Hall in the 9th minute.
Houston came closest to equalizing in the 30th minute when Brad Davis picked out Carlo Costly with a perfect pass only to see Costly's far-post shot hit the post.
Costly's night only got worse as he drew a straight red card in the 64th minute for a vicious tackle on Chance Myers that left Houston a man down against a dangerous KC attack.
Playing down a man, The Dynamo found it difficult to press for an equalizer against the home side. In the 73rd minute, a familiar face struck again. Julio Cesar played a defense-splitting ball that once again picked out Bunbury. The recent U.S. national team call-up finished his night with a left-footed shot past Hall to double the lead.
KC made it 3-0 when Zusi again played a picture-perfect ball into space for second-half sub Kei Kamara. Kamara then did well to pick out C.J. Sapong at the top ofthe six-yard box. The rookie slotted it home to make it 3-0.
Sporting KC will face a tough test next week as they take on a strong Real Salt Lake side on the road while Houston must face first-place Columbus in a mid-week tilt.
Graham Zusi was his usual solid, hard-working self with some impressive through balls. Julio Cesar also had a good game and has improved immensely since the beginning of the season. His pass to spring Teal was world class. But other than Bunbury, my MOM was Chance Myers. He OWNED his side of the field. His best performance so far IMO.
Kind of starting to wonder when Graham Zusi is going to get a call up with the USMNT…his emergence has to be one of the biggest factors in Sporting’s climb.
It’s a great weekend to see Bunbury, Agudelo, and Davies score multiple goals this weekend.(Except Agudelo 1 goal) Maybe Jurgen K should call all 3 for the next friendlies.
Way to put a picture of Sapong when Bunbury score two goals: one with the outside of the right and one low blast with the left.
(SBI-There were no good pictures of Bunbury from the match. The story isn’t about Bunbury, it’s about the game. Make sense?)
I felt that Costly’s cheap red was an expression of frustration and I’d bluntly place the source of that frustration in the coaching box. Moffat over Camargo? Ashe starting? Houston didn’t seem to have an offensive game plan other than to play for their umpteenth road draw, and there was little sign of an idea of how to get back into the game even down 1-0.
Costly shouldn’t be sliding over the ball — even if the red was harsh — but in the big picture you’re talking about a coach dropping points like crazy in August and September right when the Dynamo need to be getting traction to make the playoffs. And while I simply think KC had the better team — don’t overlook what Zusi and Bravo did also — Houston seems to be a team that is the result of odd personnel choices and worse, has a coach that makes them no better than the personnel he gathers and deigns to use. Signs Camargo on loan and brings him in the last 10; Dixon scored the winner vs. RSL and that’s the last PT he saw. I feel like he rolled out the ball for a good 06 07 Houston dynasty but without that level of players it’s just ugly soccer with a coach with no tactical chops to change games.
I think that has more to do with Kinnear’s choices in favor of Hainault and Ashe than anything else. Taylor was just fine, Freeman sucked but wasn’t at fault on the goals or exposed for speed. You’d think Kinnear would see that Hainault is no good if he has to move — Chivas exposed him just the same — but that would require re-considering his whole 442 pugilism in favor of athletic players and attractive soccer.
It’s difficult to ask a coach to game plan around just one player. However, Bunbury showed his strengths in that game. He is simply not a back to the goal player. If the mids keep feeding him through-balls, he will destroy the opponents defense.
Houston’s back line was hopeless against Bunbury’s and Sapong’s speed.
I was really impressed witht the midfield tandem of Espinoza and Zusi.
Bunbury is a good guy. Not even a SKC fan but I want to see him to well.
SKC’s a tough team to beat at home when they’re on their game, it remains to be seen if Bunbury’s performance wasn’t a one-off, if he can maintain form he’ll likely get another national team call-up, and be a factor for the “Wizards” in the playoffs.
good for Bunbury 🙂 wish I’d been able to see this game 🙁
KC is fun to watch