Sporting KC snapped a seven-game winless streak Sunday with its 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders. It’s been a long stretch – filled with plenty of questions for Sporting KC – but here are three things we learned from Sunday’s return to form:
Yohan Croizet played a big role in this win
SKC fans have been pretty hot-or-cold about Yohan Croizet. Many called him out last week, when he had an opportunity to time-waste in the final moments of SKC’s match against Vancouver. The Whitecaps ended up scoring a 94th minute equalizer.
But it was Croizet’s individual effort that was a positive on Sunday. Two of Johnny Russell’s three goals came directly from Croizet battling for possession. On the first, Croizet fell to the ground, stumbled up and still managed to tap the ball away from his defender long enough to clear space and deliver it to a charging Russell. On Russell’s third goal, Croizet bodied a defender and kept possession long enough to get the ball to Kelyn Rowe, who coolly slid it over to Russell to complete his hat trick.
“Yohan stepped in and he was brilliant today,” Russell said. “The space he created, and he ran himself into the ground.”
Vermes was also pleased with the performance from Croizet, who was playing a false 9 position.
“I think he put them under a lot of pressure,” Vermes said Croizet’s impact on the Sounders’ defense. “He’s an explosive guy with a lot of power and speed and I think they were a little bit surprised with that piece. He’s not someone you can push off the ball. He’s a strong guy, and I think he helped us even though it’s not his position.”
Last week’s last-minute tie against Vancouver stung
SKC thought it finally had three points in the bag last week. It had held a 1-0 lead with 10 men on the field. But Vancouver put a dagger goal away in stoppage time. Sporting KC walked off the field unhappy once again – and that feeling stuck around, providing extra motivation for Sunday’s result.
“I think the good thing is there (were) some remnants down deep in the gut from what happened last week and we talked about it all week,” Vermes said. “We know we deserved the three points.”
Having that opportunity slip from their fingers was perhaps the extra boost of inspiration SKC needed to finally get back in the win column.
Re-integrating Jimmy Medranda will make a big difference for SKC
The ovation had already been loud enough: Medranda, who had knee surgery last season and hasn’t played for a year, finally made his return to the field Sunday. He subbed on in the 89th minute, and the applause (and “Jimmy!” chant) was raucous.
Then in true Medranda fashion, he fired a shot from distance mere moments into his season debut. The ball slammed into the far post, perhaps saving the Children’s Mercy Park crowd from truly losing its collective mind.
It will still be a while before Medranda is back to full fitness and fully integrated into the team. But when he does transition fully back into playing, he’ll be a dangerous weapon.
“Getting him out on the field today I think was a good first step for him,” Vermes said. “Obviously the minutes were minimal, but at the same time there’s not a lot of minutes he can get at the moment because he hasn’t played any MLS games. But it’s amazing how he almost scored with one of his shots. He has that ability.”