Sporting Kansas City broke out of their slump in a major way against Orlando City. Despite only scoring two goals, the Midwesterners fired 34 shots, 13 of which were on target. They witnessed a creative burst from their midfielders that amounted to 18 chances created from their five midfielders.
After griping about their creative midfield woes for the past few weeks, it feels like a release to finally see so many chances coming from such a talented midfield.
I have also spent my time griping about Sporting KC’s midfield being positioned poorly, as central midfielders like Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinoza were playing wide roles. To a certain extent, that was still the case against Orlando, but it was different in that Espinoza and Feilhaber switched sides in the center of the field.
The results speak for themselves. That little change of scenery cracked the lock wide open and completely dominated affairs against a firecracker of a team in Orlando City.
So what was it that made the difference?
Well, there is no clear cut change in what we saw out of Kansas City. One of the changes came from the wide areas in the number of crosses that Kansas City attempted. Against Houston, the KC midfield fired 14 crosses, only three of which were successful. That changed drastically against Orlando, as they cut those attempts down to eight, with five being successful. It is a minor difference, but considering the situations, it worked out rather well. Well-placed crosses in lesser abundance is going to trump firing in crosses willy nilly.
Quality over quantity.
Then there is the matter of Benny Feilhaber. A cut-down of crosses was the big difference for Feilbaher and perhaps unsurprisingly, his created chances quadruples as his crosses were cut down from six to one.
Other than that, there were no major changes between two distinctly separate matches. Sporting Kansas City have a superb midfield that was always going to come around. It might have just been a matter of their creativity bursting at the seams. Particularly Roger Espinoza, who used his wide position to create six chances and nab an assist.
We knew this was going to happen. Last time out I claimed that it might not be in their best interest to just wait it out. Well, by swapping Espinoza and Feilhaber, they have kicked that motion into fast-forward and put their season right back on track where it belongs.