Sporting was hit in the mouth early in this game but battled back to dominate the game on their way to a 3-1 win in San Jose.
Big Picture: Sporting’s win moves them into second place in the Western Conference, three points behind Seattle, who has been unbeatable this season. The 4-2-1 record is a good one. Unlike last season when Sporting led the conference standings most of the season, this looks more real. I said all last year that it was smoke and mirrors and that Sporting was not as good as their record indicated. This year I think they are much closer to what the record shows. There is still room for improvement, but they are off to a solid start.
LINDSEY GETS FIRST GOAL… What a first MLS goal for Jaylen Lindsey! Alan Pulido drew attention in the middle of the field. Lindsey made a run for the box. Pulido made a terrific pass to Lindsey, who had beaten his man. Lindsey settled the ball and put it under the keeper to the far post. It was Lindsey’s first goal in MLS, and it was a really nice one.
The goal wasn’t just big because it was Lindsey’s first MLS goal. It was big because of how the game started. San Jose was aggressive from the opening kick, scoring just four minutes into the game. This goal evened the game and started yet another come-from-behind win for Sporting.
OFFENSE RUNNING THROUGH PULIDO… Sporting seemed to emphasize getting the ball to a Pulido in scoring opportunities in this game. Every time Sporting got near the box they were looking for Pulido. And in the second half, Pulido received a pass from Daniel Salloi just outside the box. He faked like he was going to continue moving the ball to the left side of the field. I just about lost it when I thought he was giving the ball up to the outside instead of shooting. But Pulido had the same thought as me. After faking the pass, Pulido put the ball in the upper left-hand corner of the goal. The ball actually hit the crossbar and went into the goal. The goal put Sporting up 2-1.
SALLOI CAN BECOME A STAR… Daniel Salloi has so much talent. He handles the ball better than most. He creates so many opportunities on offense. The problem is that he has had problems finishing. As I was writing during the game wondering if Daniel Salloi can become a finisher, and therefore as star, Alan Pulido fed the ball to Salloi and he curled it around a diving keeper and put the ball in the side of the net. It was a beautiful goal. And maybe, just maybe, Sporting has a second star in the making to go along with Alan Pulido.
MELIA COMES UP BIG: Sporting K Tim Melia doesn’t always get to show off all of the talent he has. Now, I will admit that I am sometimes critical of the hype thrown Melia’s way. He sometimes gets more credit than he should. More often though, he doesn’t get the blame he should get. He’s not perfect. Nobody is perfect.
But in this game, Tim Melia was about as perfect as a keeper can be. I remember at least three diving stops that he made and at least one he was able to catch to retain possession. It’s one thing to hit the ball away. After all, the number one goal of a keeper is to stop the ball from going into the net. But second on the list for keepers is to regain possession for his team. When a shot is taken, if the keeper can catch the ball instead of just knocking it out of bounds or away from the goal, the team regains possession and deflates the opponent. Melia did this multiple times against San Jose.
KEEPER KICKS TAKEN FOR GRANTED: Let’s throw a little more love Melia’s way. Did you see just how bad San Jose keeper James Marcinkowski was handling the ball with his feet? He was terrible! When he played the ball out of goal with his feet, he often kicked it out of bounds. This was clearly part of the Sporting strategy. Peter Vermes likes to pressure the opponent. Marcinkowski must have made Vermes drool as an opportunity to gain additional possessions. Sporting took advantage of this.
Next Up: Fourth place Houston comes to Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting is selling all seats for this game as we get back to full capacity in our sports.
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