Three Observations from Sporting KC vs FC Dallas

Well… It’s been two days since Sporting KC scored their first goal of 2023 but slipped a 1-0 lead at FC Dallas on the road and it was hard to admit to myself.

Like many other SKC fans, I vacillate between “this is going to be a long season” and “it can’t get much worse, can it?” every time I think about the result.

I catch myself going into dark places and thinking about all our chances, including the penalty and subsequent replay of the penalty, both of which were blocked by Maarten Paes, and wondering if maybe things will pick up once our top players return .

However, I celebrated Daniel Salloi’s cracker in the 11th minute like a child on Christmas morning. It was a release that SKC Nation needed, although the buzz would only last 44 minutes.

Sporting didn’t play badly against Dallas, but they didn’t play well enough to win.


SKC’s best players aren’t all out there. Despite a total lack of creativity in the future, there were spells that made Kansas City look dangerous. They just couldn’t find the back of the web. Had Johnny Russell, Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda been out there, maybe we could find a second goal and at least share points down the road.

There’s no telling when these guys will be back, but it’s becoming clearer with every game that their presence is needed.

Willy Agada’s 2023 version is a far cry from the 2022 version we saw when he arrived last summer.

Agada had 33 touches in the game and only one of his four shots hit the target. His penalty was saved but VAR believed Paes came off his line early. Erik Thommy lined up for the replay and the disappointment on Agada’s face was obvious. Fontas even had to move him from the spot.

Khiry Shelton’s play on the wing hasn’t made up for Russell’s absence and while Thommy is a spark in midfield, the magic just isn’t there without other figures around him.

Before the season started, pundits, analysts, fans, the guy in a Dom Dwyer jersey at the tailgate, my wife and many, many others said, “We know where the goals are going to come from, but the defense worries me.”

Somehow the opposite was the case.

Despite some shaky moments when the defense went under the net this season (three goals in four games), the SKC defense held up to Dallas’ 12 shots and seven corners. Thanks to Dallas for their two goals, deserved with excellent combination play.

Andreu Fontas and Robert Voloder’s partnership is somehow working well enough at the moment. With Dany Rosero arriving soon and likely to take the young German’s starting position, there is hope the defense will only improve.

Graham Zusi is Graham Zusi. No awards won but still a viable right-back. I doubt his and Ben Sweat’s ability to stay fit. They’re such a threat when they’re pushing forward, but when they have to retrace the entire game, their empty gas tanks become a liability for FC Dallas’ counterattack.

The injury to Germany offseason signer Tim Liebold is a cause for concern and it may be time for Kayden Pierre to get more minutes at the side and hope for Logan Ndenbe’s return soon.

Combining the above two observations, FC Dallas is the latest example of a team not fearing any team from Sporting KC, previously known for a stifling press and elite wing play.

Whether Kansas City is dominating or giving up possession, the results have been consistent. No matter how many chances you create, if nobody can stop them, you won’t win games.

It might not be the time to worry as Sporting have featured in every game and some great players so far this season should I will be returning soon but it sure feels like it.

FC Dallas never felt like they were going to lose and with the Seattle Sounders heading to town this weekend, you know they’ll be looking for blood. Follow that with a road trip to MLS Cup runners-up Philadelphia Union, SKC need to sharpen things up and string more goals and wins together or this season could get ugly fast.

But hey… at least we scored.

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