With so many starters out, Sporting couldn’t have asked for a better game to start the season.
Big Picture: Sporting started the season off right with a 2-1 win on the road against the New York Red Bulls.
You Can’t Win If You Don’t Shoot (On Goal): It took until the 58th minute of the game for Sporting to get its first shot on goal. But it was just two minutes after that when they tied the game at 1-1. Gadi Kinda scored on a penalty shot after a New York hand ball in the box. And then Daniel Salloi scored a second Sporting goal just a minute later on a perfect cross by Khiry Shelton.
Learning From Their Mistakes: The past two seasons have been difficult for Sporting fans. The defense has really struggled, and it seemed to be at its worst when Sporting held the lead or just tied a game late. These collapses over the past two seasons are one reason why Matt Besler is no longer on the club.
Losing late in the game is like having a bad bullpen in baseball. You fight all game and then give it away at the end. All of the hard work feels like a waste. You don’t get any points, even if most of the game was yours or a tie.
When Sporting took a 2-1 lead in the second half, my first thought was can they hold on and win? We have seen this movie many times. And with each minute that passed, I grew more concerned. Sporting had 30 minutes of regulation to kill and another five of extra time. But unlike recent seasons, they held on and won the game.
The way Sporting won was huge. It is too early in the season to know if this is a new team or a temporary opening game success. But for at least one game, Sporting held on to a lead.
Win Is Bigger Because of Injuries: Winning in any major professional sport is difficult, but Sporting entered the season-opener without several regular starters. Tim Melia, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Ilie Sanchez, and Graham Zusi were all unavailable to go the full 90 minutes. Pulido and Russell did get in the game for the final 15 minutes of regulation and the five extra minutes, but that’s it. Otherwise, Sporting was relying on a lot of new and/or young faces.
Next Up: Sporting opens up its home schedule on Friday against Orlando City SC. This will be their second consecutive game against a club from the Eastern Conference. Sporting will only play three games against teams from the East all season.
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