Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
When Sporting Kansas City traded for Benny Feilhaber this past offseason, they did so with the hopes of landing a central midfielder who was capable of dictating the tempo of games and unlocking defenses.
On Saturday night, Feilhaber lived up to that billing.
Feilhaber helped Sporting KC hand the Montreal Impact their first defeat of the season, assisting on both goals in a 2-0 win at Sporting Park. Feilhaber set up goals on each side of halftime, as Claudio Bieler and Graham Zusi both found the back of the net for the hosts.
While the Impact’s defense had been the one receiving many of the plaudits in recent weeks, it was Sporting KC’s back line which held firm. Matt Besler returned from international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team and helped goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and the rest of the Sporting KC defense to post their third cleansheet in as many games.
The decisive goal came early for Sporting KC. In the fifth minute, Feilhaber collected a pass near midfield and dribbled forward before finding Bieler, who took a touch and hit a shot past Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins for his third tally of the year.
With Bieler’s strike surely altering their gameplan, the Impact could no longer just sit back and absorb the pressure while waiting to hit on the counter as they had in recent weeks. Marco Di Vaio and the Impact wound up with some chances to equalize, but Nielsen and Sporting KC’s stingy defense denied them at every turn.
That opened the door for Zusi’s insurance goal in the 80th minute. Zusi made a great diagonal run behind the Impact’s back four and Feilhaber hit a quality through ball to him. Zusi then fought off a defender before calmly hitting a low chip over an onrushing Perkins.
Here are the match highlights:
What do you think of Sporting KC’s 2-0 win over the Impact? Expecting more performances like this from Feilhaber? Still believe Montreal will be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this season?
Share your thoughts below.