Diving Deep: Sporting KC II 2 – 4 Birmingham Legion
The Good, The Bad, and A Win.
Birmingham Legion have finally started to find that fire power fans knew existed forever. For example, Legion have only been shut out of three matches thus far into the season. Their problem has never been scoring goals. It’s gifting opponents goals they then have to fight back from. Not every time have they been able to handle that fight they way they did against Sporting KC II. Lets have a look at how exactly they went about this one.
Birmingham Legion gave one away early, yet again. A problem that has been present within the squad all season. Legion likes to burst out of the gate with a sprint. Looking for the first goal of the game right away. It’s a very exciting approach. It has its pitfalls however. Legion tend to rush forward, not without respect for their opposition, but without proper knowledge sometimes. This was the case for Sporting’s first goal of the evening. Not having run with the SKCII attackers yet, Legion’s defense got burned by their quickness. While the back line was able to backtrack and recover for the initial shot, SKCII already had players forward and were able to pick up the rebound for another shot, and goal. This has happened time, and time again to the Legion. Early mental focus has to be a priority going into the later stages of the season.
There were over 70 minutes between Sporting goals, and while Spangenberg was solid in between, I’d point him out as “most” at fault for both. The first goal happened very quickly, as we saw. However, if you look at the keeper’s POV, Spangenberg should have already had a step to his right. There was one SKCII attacker bearing down on the keeper via the penalty spot. The shot from Čuić was spot on, not taking anything away from him, but had Spangenberg addressed the higher percentage option, as seen in the photo below, he would have also been in a better position to stop the low percentage option Čuić gambled on.
After over an hour of play, and not much to do honestly, Spangenberg was called back into action. I say Spangenberg was “mostly” at fault on these because the Birmingham back line should have held their ground, and not let Sporting attackers into those dangerous positions. He actually did well on the second. He got an arm on ball from the shot that came from high flying Jamil Roberts. A little more strength in his arm. A little more decisiveness on his positioning, and Legion end this one 4-1. Like I predicted. Alas, the “little more” when Sporting KC II way to keep the ending of this one interesting.
The tenacity of Legion’s schedule was no deterrent. Soehn put out an attacking 3-4-3 formation that was able to crowd up the space in between Sporting 4-1-4-1. While SKCII were looking to spread the play out wide, it was Birmingham Legion that benefited from it. Dean, and James were able to run up and down the flanks freely on the night, and find the men in the middle over and over again. The big men from Birmingham are always an aerial threat, but it was the cut backs on the ground that really threw SKCII defenders out of position. While they weren’t exactly out of position for Legions first goal, it was one of multiple cut backs, not a cross, that found Neco Brett in the box for his eleventh of the season.
There was plenty of discussion over the week about Birmingham Legions cramped schedule as of late. While that may have been a negative factor against Tulsa, it seemed to be a positive against Sporting. Squad rotation was most likely already on the mind of Coach Sohen. However, he was forced to make one change for sure as Flemmings went down injured during the last match. Legion ultimately rotated out five players for the match up against Sporting KC II. Opting to keep a solid spine throughout the team with Brett up top, Asiedu behind him marshalling his midfield, and Herivaux in the back pairing with Kavita once again. That’s not to mention the others that joined from the past weekend. The slew of fresh legs, eager to prove themselves, tested Sporting KC II from the start. Even the substitutions in the second half were well thought out, bringing on three would be starters on at the hour mark. J.J. Williams being one of those subs, put his team ahead not ten minutes after his introduction, and it was Flemmings making his return that put them back ahead near the end of the match.
The entire squad won with this three points. Competing at less than full strength, during a long haul of matches, and going down early is hard to come back from. The Legion found a way though, and keep their push for top spot alive.
As stated before, the squad rotation, formation, and substitute decisions were all spot on. Well done coach!
Such a solid contender. He’s been stalwart for this team for years now. To put the exclamation point on this match with his first ever goal for Birmingham Legion sets the entire squad up for success as we enter the waning mon.