Tempers flare in the Big Apple as Sporting KC drop another game

Tim Melia

New York City, New York (July 27, 2019) — Mere seconds after Sporting Kansas City averted any sort of danger, Benny Feilhaber was screaming in the face of Seth Sinovic and Krisztian Nemeth. The game was still tied at 0-0, but tempers were flaring inside Yankee Stadium Friday night.

Just minutes later, Feilhaber let New York City FC’s Alexander Ring maraud past him into a dangerous position, who played a ball across goal to an open Anton Tinnerholm for an easy goal. Meanwhile, who was supposed to be defending Tinnerholm? Sinovic.

It wasn’t a good look for Sporting KC, especially Feilhaber or Sinovic. Sporting KC fell to NYCFC 3-1.

Sporting KC tempers rise in Yankee Stadium

The incident between Feilhaber and Sinovic wasn’t the only moment Sporting KC players let their tempers flare.

Roger Espinoza picked up a yellow card in the first half after getting in a melee following a foul on Gerso at the stroke of halftime. Following the break, Sporting players surrounded referee David Gantar following NYCFC’s second goal. Sporting was denied a clear corner down one end of the field before NYCFC went a scored up the other end.

Héber chipped the ball over Tim Melia. Meanwhile, the Sporting backline stood stock-still in shock at the missed corner.

Ilie pulled one back for Sporting KC in the 73rd minute off a corner but it proved too little too late for the visiting team. However, just when Sporting were mounting a comeback, Ring put the game to bed in the 77th minute. Picking the ball up 20 yards out, he swept the ball home into the bottom left corner from distance.

Sporting played with 10 men for the final 28 minutes after Espinoza picked up his second yellow for a studs-up challenge on Maxime Chanot.

A short-lived return

Espinoza returned to the starting lineup last week against FC Dallas, but will again find himself watching from home next week. After picking up a yellow before halftime, his studs-up challenge on Chanot was deemed dangerous enough for a second yellow.

Espinoza managed to get to the ball first, but following through with his studs up, he went straight through Chanot’s knee. If the Frenchman’s foot was planted and not up in the air, it was a potentially leg-breaking lunge from Espinoza. The Honduran had no reason to complain about the decision, but subduing early tempers could have been the difference between staying on and off the field.

The red card was the 10th of Espinoza’s career, and he will miss Sporting’s trip to Seattle on Aug. 4th.

The Little Apple

Friday night’s game may have taken place in the Big Apple, but there was nothing big about NYCFC’s pitch. The smallest field in MLS, it sits at 110 yards in length and 70 yards across. That’s 5 yards narrower and 10 yards smaller than the next-smallest field in the league.

And that showed for the road team, as Sporting KC could not deal with the narrow proportions. Typically playing wide through Gerso and Johnny Russell, the pair of players were near-useless in Yankee Stadium. They couldn’t play wide enough to cut in, and therefore would run into trouble almost immediately on every play. Star talisman Russell was arguably the worst player on the field outside of his set-piece deliveries.

A troubling trend

Sporting KC is making headlines for all the wrong reasons in the loss column. Following the loss to NYCFC, it is now 0-8-3 this season when conceding first. Sporting has also lost 9 games in MLS play this season, having only lost 8 all of last season.

But it’s a difficult pill to swallow for Sporting, which has often dominated games up until conceding the opening goal. The same happened on Friday night, as it controlled possession up until conceding NYCFC’s slick opener. From there, heads repeatedly drop and it’s a long climb back for the typically dominating team.


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