It was right there! The first win of the season was just stoppage time away, but yet again the crushing disappointment set in as Sporting Kansas City found the net twice in the six minutes of stoppage time. Five games into the season now and the Union seem to be stuck at 2 points. There has to be brighter days ahead...right?
I'm not going to try and pretend like there is some sort of positive way to spin whatever that was that happened Sunday night. I will, however, point out a few things that I saw that gave me at least a little hope.
First and foremost, Fernando Aristeguieta is an absolute gem of a find. Whoever is to thank for getting him here earned their paycheck this offseason. He seems the only one able to find the back of the net, and has such an impressive work ethic that it makes Sebastien Le Toux look lazy. Once the team is healthy, there is no telling how dangerous he could be with a full arsenal around him.
While the team looked completely uninterested in playing last week against the Chicago Fire, they looked more focused this week, seeming to be more intent on getting a result against Sporting Kansas City.The team was breaking out on counterattacks faster than I've ever seen them react. It gave the Union some dangerous chances on the break and could have resulted in a few extra goals if Fernando was just a little faster. Hopefully that carries over and bears more benefits in the near future.
It's bad. Very bad. And the worst part is that it doesn't look like it is going to get any better any time soon. The injuries keep piling up as fast - if not faster - than players are returning to health. This week it was Fabinho hobbling off, leaving rookie Raymond Lee to have a disastrous debut. The poor guy comes in to help hold on to a lead and twice in four minutes allows the player he's guarding to score. To make things even worse, there's a very good chance the game winner should have been credited to him as an own goal.
On the offensive side, Fernando was brilliant again (if I'm allowed to say that in the negative side of this post) however beyond that is was barren. From the run of play Le Toux and Andrew Wenger were useless. Wenger had two chances to get a good shot off from the top of the box but put both shots right at the keeper for easy saves. For someone who had such praise and expectations heaped on them in the preseason, Wenger has failed to show much of anything to this point.
The ending was heartbreaking, yes, but the part of the game that I still can't get over and most symbolizes the season so far is the slow speed chase sequence. The breakout was so promising and I could feel myself dreaming of the Union pushing the lead to 3-1 and finally collecting the 3 points. Then as Fernando slows down and it becomes obvious he won't reach the penalty box in enough time to get a shot off he pulls off a great move to avoid the defender, only to be dragged down in what was to me obviously a red card and free kick at the top of the box that of course doesn't get called.
That's not it though - Le Toux ends up with the ball, in alone with just the keeper to beat. The all-time leading scorer in Union history has to score though right? Wrong! Off the post and right to the feet of Michael Lahoud. With no one pressuring him, only a defender standing in goal he has to score though right? Wrong! Of course not. The ball skies over the crossbar and the Union take another step to cementing their place as the league's laughingstock.