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Draw against Seattle falls short of Sporting Kansas City’s high expectations

Apr 15, 2018; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza (17) battles for the ball against Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan (7) during the second half at Children's Mercy Park. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City came from a goal behind to take a 2-2 draw away from Sunday’s home match against the Seattle Sounders. Here are three things we learned: 

High expectations

Not that this hasn’t always been the case under SKC coach Peter Vermes, but it says something about a team’s expectations when it has a bomb of an equalizer, comes from behind at home to steal a point and still is disappointed in the result.

Defender Graham Zusi was so annoyed after the game he didn’t even want to talk about his goal (his second on the year in just seven matches).

Vermes stopped short of saying his team put in a poor effort, and instead went with an “out of sync” diagnosis. Sure, the Sounders aren’t lighting the league on fire this season. But to come back in the final 12 minutes of a match to steal a point is still representative of a quality team in Kansas City.

Graham Zusi, defender and creator

Zusi has always been known as a scoring machine, at least within the framework of his position on the back line. But it’s also his ability to create chances for his teammates on the offensive end that makes him so versatile.

He took a free kick in the 69th minute and landed the ball right in front of Ike Opara, whose header was saved by Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei. And Zusi, on the attack in the 82nd minute, earned another free kick after getting shoved by the Sounders’ Nouhou Tolo. That free kick again translated into a missed header, but the chances were there — and Zusi was the starting point.

Imperfect defense

Kansas City’s bar for defense is extraordinarily high. Having said that, a few goals scored against Sporting this season have been surprising. The two  conceded goals in Sunday’s 2-2 draw could probably fall into that category. Neither were what you would expect against one of the league’s best defenses year in and year out.

One came from point-blank range after Will Bruin unleashed a second clean shot in a matter of seconds. It came off what manager Peter Vermes called a team mistake, but Zusi categorized as an individual error.

“We were reactionary; we weren’t anticipating a lot of plays,” Vermes said. “I’m not telling you we were horrible, but I just don’t think we were on top of our game. We didn’t bring our A-game today for sure.”

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