Sporting Kansas City needed to switch things up after having gone four games without a win. Welcoming the LA Galaxy, who had scored nine goals in their past two games, into Children’s Mercy Park was going to be no easy feat. The change that Peter Vermes made was a defensive one.
Nuno Coelho, who had been rocking out as the star performer of this Kansas City defense, was moved forward into the middle of the midfield three. Making him the most crucial piece of the puzzle.
On the surface, you might look at it and say it succeeded – holding LA to just one goal, to just four total shots? Yeah, that’s all well and good, but he was so clearly a defender and not a midfielder. No shots, no chances created, none of that stuff. He did manage the most touches, but that’s it.
Plus, how many times have Sporting KC been beaten on the counter? Colorado anyone? LA did the exact same thing. That’s what midfielders like Coelho are supposed to defend against. They are supposed to break down the attack and stifle counters before they get dangerous.
LA, just like so many other teams, dealt Kansas City the blow that was needed on the counter. Then, with just ten men, LA was able to hold on for the draw as Sporting Kansas City was unable to break down a compact defense. And in spite of it all, Coelho was never taken off. He remained on the pitch for the full ninety despite his proven lack of offensive contribution. He may have scored a rocket goal earlier in the year, but against LA he was just average. He didn’t provide a boost.
Then again, how could such a move have triggered a boost? It triggered a boost in the defensive production, but not on the counter where they needed it most.
So yes, it failed. Kansas City have now gone five matches without a win and adding more defenders to that package, a package that is producing just 1.1 goals per game, not only doesn’t make sense, but it is counter intuitive. Defense can secure wins, but it cannot actually win the game. Kansas City need to reformulate their strategy going forward because this isn’t working.
The first strategy they should consider is switching to a 4-2-3-1. That way they can allow Coelho and Mendoza to occupy the base two and stifle the counter attack. They would lose nothing on the offensive end, as it would be the same guys, waiting to break out. But defensively, it provides the solution they need. Enough of this 4-3-3, it does not provide the stability that Vermes is looking for.