A beautiful night for a soccer match, temps in the low 60's and a light breeze. RSL looking for a bit of revenge against the only team to beat them at home in 2009. Starting for KC are Neilsen, Conrad, Harrington, Leathers, Besler, Arnaud, Jewsbury, Wolff, Bunbury, Smith, and Kamara. RSL put out Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran, Will Johnson, Jean Alexandre, Javier Morales, Andy Williams, Alvaro Saborio, and Fabian Espindola.
Well, the offside flag is up already as Espindola makes a good run and despite the flag being up he fires a shot past Nielsen. With Kyle Beckerman out with an injury, Jean Alexandre gets the start, RSL is attacking early and within the first two minutes they already have gotten the ball into the area a couple times and are doing an great job of pressuring the ball.
KC is applying some high pressure and looking to try to develop their attack as well, nice to see them not playing with everyone behind the ball like TFC did a few weeks ago. First whistle of the night is a handball at midfield by KC and RSL's first free kick of the night, followed quickly by a foul on Javi and a long pass gives the ball over to KC, but RSL get it right back and Fabi plays a nice ball to the area for Saborio but it is cleared out for RSL's first corner kick of the night. Cleared out of the are and KC looks to counter but Wolff's pass is broken up by Rimando.
Saborio goes down as he and Smith collide but both are looking fine and back up in action, the first touches are a mixed bag for RSL as a number of passes are going out and it could be the slickness of the wet surface (dang sprinklers before the match).
More after the jump:
The offside flag goes up on Saborio, but so far RSL has looked good and are doing a fair mix of long balls and moving the ball up the sides to create their offense. A nice job of marking the speedy Kamara by Alexandre, but the play results in a KC corner kick and Olave heads the ball out to midfield but KC keeps possession until they commit a foul and RSL will restart the action. Javi tries to interesting pass but it goes out and KC get back on the offensive side of the ball, some nice passing by KC and a ball into the area by Bunbury but Rimando gets to it before any of the KC players.
The first 10 minutes belonged to RSL but the last 5 minutes have been more KC as they have kept a majority of possession and had the better opportunities. Johnson breaks up the free kick attempt but KC keeps the ball, until they have a pass fly out of bounds for a RSL throw in, lots of collisions of players. RSL is doing a little better job of battling for the 50-50 balls.
It was interesting that KC chose to defend the north goal first, which puts their keeper in a rough spot as the sun is simply brutal at that end of the pitch, but they clearly know that is the end that RSL has chosen to defend first most of the time. Olave tries to play a long ball to the charging Espindola, but it is a bit long, but RSL follows it up with another run into the KC final third, but this time it goes out for a KC goal kick. RSL is doing some nice things in moving the ball across the width of the pitch, which may be causing some issues for KC who are used to playing on a very narrow pitch.
KC counter and Wolff and Olave battle and RSL ends up with the ball and the attack is back underway, well that didn't last long as the ball goes out and back over to KC. KC moves forward and gets a long throw into the area but cleared by Borchers, KC keeps it and again a ball has to be cleared out of the area by Borchers but KC keeps possession of the ball. RSL get it back and a hard foul by Besler brings out the first yellow of the night and RSL get a free kick at the midfield line. A nice ball by Javi to Tony, but it is a bit long and goes out and KC will restart the play and it goes right back over to KC and Kamara goes down and a yellow card on Olave as the KC advantage ends with a shot that goes out for a goal kick.
RSL restart their attack, KC clear it out for a RSL throw in, Andy to Espindola and a great shot that Nielsen doesn't even get close to and RSL get the goal to go up 1-0 in the 31st minute to keep their streak of scoring early in matches going. We have also seen in a huge number of matches this year that the team to score first will most often win the match. KC looks to counter but RSL breaks it up, and are back organizing their attack, KC get it back but RSL again break up their attack. Fabi in the area, puts a ball into the area and Saborio puts it into the back of the net to give RSL a 2-0 lead.
You can see the difference in energy level after the first goal, and now you would expect that they will be looking for a third goal to put this match away before we hit halftime. Both teams are doing a good job of clogging up the passing lanes and anticipating those passes to cause problems for the other side. KC's Smith plays a great ball into the area but Rimando is there to get it and RSL will go back on offense again. A deep throw in for KC and they have really picked up their offensive intensity after giving up that second goal. Bunbury goes charging into the area as Nick comes out and there is a big collision between them and it takes a minute for Nick to get back up, but he looks fine.
KC has really done a good job of controlling possession since the second RSL goal and a back turnover by Borchers under pressure and Arnaud plays it to Wolff and he gets the goal to get KC back in the match at 2-1. Josh Wolff is the only current KC player to ever have scored a goal against RSL, and he has 3 goals at Rio Tinto. KC is keeping the pressure up, and a foul gives a free kick to KC about 30 yards out, but the shot is weak and goes right to Rimando.
RSL back on the attack as Javi fires a header at Nielsen, who makes a huge save and it looks like that goal has gotten RSL's attention and they are looking to finish the half on a more positive note than the last 10 minutes. 2 minutes of stoppage time, and Kamara's attempt at a cross goes out and lands on the top of the net. Wow, a big save by Rimando as he picks off a cross but you can see that KC is playing with a lot more energy after their goal to get back into the match. A KC corner kick is cleared out by RSL and the halftime whistle blows, RSL leads 2-1.
So despite being ahead at the half, you have to be impressed with how the Wizards actually are playing, as they have controlled as much of the ball as the homeside has. I thought KC was clearly the better team for the 15 minutes after the second RSL goal. RSL will need to play better in the second half if they want to protect their lead.
RSL will make two changes to start the second half as Wingert is replaced by Robbie Russell, and Andy Willams will be replaced by Ned Grabavoy. KC makes one change as Chance Myers comes on for Leathers. Kyle Beckerman is in the booth, to add some color.
KC comes out with the ball and their first offensive effort of the night results in a RSL goal kick, and early on in the second half it is KC with possession and RSL on their heels a bit. RSL finally break up the attack and get their first real bit of possession, but it is quickly broken up by KC and the offside flag goes up and RSL will get a chance to slow things down a bit and get some possession, but a long ball turns it right back over to KC. A nice ball to Kamara and the shot is broken up by a great diving block by Borchers, the KC corner kick ends up going out for another corner kick, this one is tipped away by Rimando but KC get the throw in. KC finally makes the mistake and RSL get the throw in and they give it back, and yup KC gives it right back again.
The offside flag goes up and stops the RSL attack, KC loses the ball on a great tackle by Ned, RSL finally looks dangerous and gets to the final third of the Wizards, but then turn the ball back over. Little action from either side as the ball bounces back and forth around the middle of the pitch.
RSL looks a bit more defensive minded than they did in the first half, and KC is doing a nice job of breaking up any of the attacks by RSL. It is clear that KC is looking for the win in the match, and that is forcing RSL to adjust how they are playing, and a horrible offside call stops a RSL attack in which Fabi and Javi got behind the KC defense which had pushed up to the midfield line. I noticed that a number of missed offside calls already in this match, we also saw it in the midweek Dallas vs. Chicago match. I believe the speed of play is simply too much for the officials to keep up with.
RSL back on the attack but Leathers breaks it up and wow a great play by Alexandre to stop the KC attack and RSL is looking to counter and a yellow card for Davy Arnaud for pulling on Javi's jersey gives RSL a free kick from about 15 yards outside of the area, headed out by Besler but RSL get a corner kick. Javi plays the ball into the area but Fabi's header goes out for a KC goal kick. Well the last 5 minutes or so has seen RSL play a bit better, but KC is still looking to get even in the match, as Smith fires a shot and it goes out for a goal kick.
A little communication mistake between Borchers who played a great ball over the KC backline, but Fabi had stopped his run, so KC gets the ball back and are back on the attack, and the bad attempt at a bicycle kick by Kamara gives the ball back to RSL, and yet another offside call goes against RSL. Wow a great play taking advantage of a KC mistake as Javi plays a ball to Saborio, who fires a shot that Nielsen makes a huge save on, RSL almost had their 3rd goal of the night.
Big tackle by Olave on Harrington, but with a yellow card already it was a bit dangerous. Beltran makes a nice run through the midfield as RSL look to try to create something but a good effort by the backline of KC to catch Ned offside. RSL is going to have to watch where they are as it is clear that several of our guys are playing from offside positions. Jimmy Conrad gets a yellow card as he brings down Fabi who was making a huge run on goal, and RSL will get a free kick from just 5 yards outside of the area. Javi sets up to take the shot and it gets past the wall but it is cleared our of the area but RSL keeps the pressure on and finally KC counters but Russell breaks the play up.
Wow, the last few minutes have seen RSL play with more energy, and KC is trying to keep pace with them but one wonders if they are starting to run out of gas. RSL counter but Saborio isn't able to get much on his shot and KC will make a change as they pull Josh Wolff and Graham Zusi comes in. So if KC scores it will be the first goal ever for someone against RSL. Saborio fires a header at goal, save by Nielsen again, to Fabi who tries his own bicycle kick and KC counter and force Rimando to make a save. The action has picked up in the last few minutes and the match is finally looking more like what I expected as both teams are clearly looking to find the back of the net. Olave's clearance gives KC a corner kick.
The effort isn't much but they are keeping possession on the RSL side of the pitch as KC moves 9 men forward in attack. A great long ball to Espindola but Fabi's chip shot is high and the match is getting a bit phsyical again as everyone is battling for the ball. A yellow card comes out for Arnaud and that is his second and yellow plus yellow equals red, I actually wonder if the call comes for something Arnaud says. The end result is a free kick for RSL from two yards out of the area, and a man advantage. A great shot by Javi and another huge save by Nielsen, but it falls right to Robbie Russell who one times it past the keeper and into the back of the net to give RSL the 3-1 edge in the match. KC makes another change as Diop comes in for someone,
RSL is doing a nice job of keeping the pressure on KC as this match is now entereing a rather frantic pace and a shot by Johnson goes out for a goal kick for the Wizards. RSL make a switch as Campos will come on for Espindola who had a great match. RSL was doing a nice job of pressuring the ball for the last 10 minutes, and now with the man advantage they are doing even more. Pablo makes a nice little run, but it goes back over to KC but their ball into the area goes out for a RSL goal kick.
Nick gets things going again for RSL and Jimmy Conrad makes a great play to break up the RSL attack, it is funny to see Javi yapping at a KC player far away from the ball. One minute down of the 3 minutes of stoppage time, RSL get a throw in and a bad back pass by KC give the ball to Ned who goes one on one with the keeper and puts it past him to give RSL the 4-1 lead with just a minute of stoppage time left in the match. Well the whistle blows and RSL pick up the win, and their first ever 5 match winning streak.
It reminds me of the saying that sometimes you have to win ugly, and this was in my opinon one of those matches as RSL didn't look like a great team but they were able to get the win. Now they face a busy week, they will head to DC for a Wednesday match to qualify for the US Open Cup, followed by a Thursday visit to the White House, and a Saturday MLS match against DC United.
OFF MY SOAPBOX