No call, no victory: Kansas City ties Chicago in first game at new stadium
Kansas City, Kan. Opening night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park couldn’t have gone much better for Sporting Kansas City.
Opening night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park
Sporting Kansas City played host to the Chicago Fire Thursday June 9, 2011, in the inaugural event at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
A tornado watch for the area brought no dangerous weather. Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco — who had a preseason tryout with Sporting Kansas City — were in the house, proving both common folks and celebrities dig the new building. To top it off, a standing-room-only crowd of 19,925 packed the place and had the stadium rocking from start to finish.
Still, Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes left no doubt one factor was unacceptable Thursday night: an officiating no-call when Omar Bravo was taken down in the box late in the second half denied Sporting a penalty kick and possibly a victory.
Instead, Kansas City and the Chicago Fire battled to a 0-0 draw.
“In regards to the way the game is played, in regards to what happens over the course of 90-plus minutes, to miss the last play with Omar when he was in the box … 100 percent PK,” Vermes said. “And for the referee to miss the moment in an environment like this tonight … there’s not a place in the world where it would have been missed like it is tonight.
“I’m extremely upset for the organization, for the fans and our team because they did enough to win the game tonight.”
The no-call came early in the 86th minute with Bravo attacking from the left side and at least five feet inside the box. After the hard trip, Bravo remained on the pitch for more than two minutes before being helped off the field.
An animated Vermes pleaded his case — as did the crowd — but to no avail.
“I don’t know what has to happen,” Vermes said. “Maybe he needs to get his leg broke for it to be a red card. That’s about it. But in the end that’s what it should have been.”
The missed opportunity was one of many on a night where Kansas City controlled possession for most of the game.
Midfielder and team captain Davy Arnaud said Sporting had to keep its nerves in check early as it prepared to play in its new stadium for the first time after a 10-game season-opening road swing.
“Walking out on the field, when you saw the full stands and you saw the fans, it was an amazing feeling,” Arnaud said. “The lady singing the national anthem was another moment when you think about the situation and how special it is.”
Sporting was the aggressor in the first half.
Kansas City outshot Chicago 5-4 in the first half but dominated time of possession and created numerous additional dangerous opportunities before the Fire defense cleared the ball.
Sporting also held a 4-2 corner kick advantage in the half.
Kansas City spent the bulk of the first half applying pressure on the Fire goal. The first opportunity came in the eighth minute when Bravo connected with forward Teal Bunbury for a shot from 15 yards that sailed wide right.
Chicago countered with a beautiful four-player combination in the ninth minute. The Fire worked the ball from right to left, beginning with Dominic Oduro, feeding through Gaston Puerari and Daniel Paladini and ending with Corben Bone's shot from point-blank range at the back post. Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen's leaping save thwarted the chance, however.
Kansas City came back moments later with a breakaway by Teal Bunbury, but his shot from 15 yards was corralled by Chicago keeper Sean Johnson.
Sporting appeared to draw first blood in the 15th minute when midfielder Kei Kamara was dragged to the pitch by his jersey by Chicago defender Gonzalo Segares. No foul was called, however, and Kamara unleashed a cross that reached midfielder Graham Zusi at the back post. Zusi's tap-in set off a jubilant celebration, but it was followed shortly by boos when the goal was waved off due to an offsides penalty.
Each team had a handful of chances the rest of the half but failed to capitalize.
Opportunities were limited in the second half. Kansas City placed two shots on goal and Chicago put just one on target.
Most of the drama centered on shots that never happened.
Chicago threatened in the 67th minute when Oduro attempted to play a bouncing ball out of the air on a breakaway. Nielsen charged out of the goal to challenge on the play. He jumped and batted the ball away, but his momentum carried him out of the box and he was given a red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity.
“Unfortunately on the situation with Jimmy, he had to make a decision after he committed himself to come out,” Vermes said. “He did what a goalkeeper does; he put his hand up and tried to make a save. Unfortunately he was outside the box. I thought it was a good call by the referee, and the linesman was in a good position.”
Nielsen was ejected, and Sporting played a man down the rest of the match.
Despite being shorthanded, the Kansas City defense successfully denied Chicago’s late attempts to attack, and Sporting created one final threat that resulted with Bravo being taken out in the box.
Ultimately, Kansas City didn’t nab three points for a victory, but it held on for the tie and secured one point.
“The thing I’m proud of is even with 10 men at the end of the game we did everything we could at the end to hang on to the point,” Vermes said. “I think it showed a lot of courage and energy by our team to at least keep another shutout. I’m very proud of the guys from that perspective.”
— LIVESTRONG Sporting Park seats 18,467, but reached a standing-room-only attendance number of 19,925.
— Sporting outshot Chicago 11-10, including a 5-4 advantage for shots on goal.
— Chicago was whistled for 15 fouls to just five for Kansas City.
— Kansas City had three players carded. Defender Michael Harrington and defender Aurelien Collin received yellow cards and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen received a red card. Chicago had two players receive yellow cards — forward Gaston Puerari and forward Cristian Nazarit.
— Sporting improved to 1-6-4 for the season. Chicago moved to 1-4-8.