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Sporting KC/Chicago Fire PDL Player Review

Published: July 16, 2011

Kansas City, KS – MLS side Sporting KC overmatched the amateur college kids from Chicago Fire PDL 3-0 in the US Open Cup Tournament.  The Fire started tentatively.  They were lacking confidence on the ball and they quickly surrendered an early goal putting the Fire even more on their heels.  This article is primarily concentrated on the PDL players rather than supplying the Sporting KC reserves accolades.

By the end of the first half, the Fire grew more comfortable on the ball and settled down and challenged Sporting, but without many legitimate opportunities.

Chicago made several mistakes and they were punished for these by Sporting KC.  

Basically, Sporting KC displayed the difference between professionals and amateurs.

Starting Lineups:
Chicago Fire PDL: 4-2-3-1.
F: Paulo Vaz
M: Andrew Ribeiro, Chris Estridge, Harrison Petts
DM: Ian Christianson, Jacob Bushue
D: Tyler Polak, Jonathan Raj, Kevin Cope, Hunter Gorskie
GK: David Meves

Sporting KC: 4-1-4-1.
F: Teal Bunbury
M: Korede Aiyegbusi, Birahim Diop, Milos Stojcev, Kei Kamara
DM: Luke Sassano
D:  Scott Lorenz, Aurelien Collin, Shavar Thomas, Michael Harrington
GK: Eric Kronberg

Chicago Fire PDL Observations:

Giving up an early goal was the worst possible start that Chicago could envision.  

Ian Christianson (Georgetown) was called for a hand ball just outside of the box that led to a goal in the 3rd minute.

Another mistake by the combination of Jonathan Raj (Fairfield) and David Meves (Akron) provided the opportunity that Sporting KC used to score the second goal.  Raj had an opportunity to move the ball quicker, but held it for too long and finally passed it back to Meves weaker left foot.  Meves didn’t clear the ball properly, instead his clearance was low and directly to Sporting KC Graham Zusi.  Zusi gobbled up the clearance moving more centrally and scored the goal.

The third goal was scored off a free kick that the goal scorer was too strong and quick to the spot and the professional finished over Raj.

Chris Estridge (Indiana) was very active.  He has magnificent vision.  Estridge needs to be more precise with his passing.

Harrison Petts (Indiana) was overmatched on the right side. Scott Lorenz had his number almost like he was reading Petts’ mind.  Additionally, Petts was out-of-sync with Estridge and Christianson.  Petts had an accurate cross to the far post but Paulo Vaz tip was very wide off target.

Ian Christianson (Georgetown) struggled with his passing early – possibly a case of nerves.  He was better later, but he never played as well as I’ve seen him play in the fall.

Kevin Cope (Michigan State) did an admirable job never seeming to be rattled.

Paulo Vaz didn’t show for the ball well. He didn’t beat defenders off the dribble.  Lastly, he didn’t hit his shots that came available.

Tyler Polak (Creighton) was the best player on the PDL side.  I was concerned that he’d be taken to the wood shed by the experienced, fast and strong Kai Kamara.  For much of the match, Kamara decided to abandon trying to attack the smaller Polak.  Polak got forward providing valuable attacks and more important was outstanding on defense.  

Jonathan Raj (Fairfield) was technically over his head.  So, he attempted to be physical to force his will on Sporting KC.  The tactic was ineffective and he only annoyed and provoked the professionals.  So, I wasn’t shocked when Kamara scored through him and then admonished the young Raj.  

Calum Mallace (Marquette) brought energy off the bench to start the second half.  His free-kick in the 67th minute was on-target, but struck too likely and was easy for the goalkeeper to catch.

David Meves (Akron) continued to reveal that he’s still a work in progress.  While he’s a good shot stopper, his foot skills are under-developed.  The second goal was his responsibility, because he lacks a left foot – but, thanks Raj for making your goalie look bad.   On the first goal, Meves needs to better position himself to stop the shot.

Andrew Ribeiro (Creighton) didn’t do much to impress.

I was disappointed that Kenny Walker (Louisville), Andrew Duran (Creighton) and Andy Craven (College of Charleston) were not on the game-day roster.

Sporting KC Observations:

3 goals. This was not much of a contest for the pros.  Livestrong Sporting Park is a beautiful venue.

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