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Sporting KC v Houston Match Ratings: Annnnnnnd we’re back!

The 2024 MLS season is under way, and we have to give ratings on player performances between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo.



Houston wrestling Russell to the ground | Credit: Thad Bell

“Wow! What a game!” is probably a statement no one is really making about Sporting Kansas City’s opening match against the Houston Dynamo, and for good reasons. Of all the games of soccer I’ve seen played, that was definitely one of them.

That said, if you had told me that was how the season was going to start, I would be A) so very unsurprised, and B) kind of okay with that. Because, let’s be honest, a road point is a road point is a road point, and a road point against Houston? Should count as more for us, but that’s just history talking. Or we could go back to shootouts and award two points for a shootout win, with the team losing earning just one? But that’s a totally different conversation.

What we’re here to do today is assign totally arbitrary, almost meaningless playing ratings, to vehemently disagree with and cordially discuss! I’ve tried to do this off and on for years and have no real basis beyond looking at the stats (mostly from the MLS Fantasy game), weighing overall player points by the average performance of all players on the field, and coming up with values that kind of sort of represent how well someone played above or below the average baseline. It doesn’t work great, but it IS a system, and sometimes the stats reveal interesting things that may be important. Sometimes they don’t. Such is life.

Overall thoughts on the game? I didn’t love most of it, but I can’t be too mad. Overall, my Big Note is that we gave Houston far too much space and played somewhat too static. At times, it seemed defenders were scrambling to cover someone, perhaps not from a full-blown breakdown but from an unsureness on assignments or when to close opponents down. I feel like that was very apparent on the Houston goal.

Thommy’s run was great, I had to re-watch it a few times, and it was better with each loop.

VAR. Do we want to talk about it? Not today, except I’ll say it seems like with the interim referees in the game I saw trying to call games safe, I do wonder if they were instructed to lean a little into VAR? I think they got the calls right, so there were no huge complaints. For now.

Numbers? Numbers. I’ll lead Houston with Houston outplayed us, and it’s reflected in the statistics, both at the team level and down to individuals.

Houston Dynamo

Player Rating
Ibrahim Aliyu 7
Sebastian Kowalczyk 7
Gabe Segal 7
Micael dos Santos 6.5
Artur 5.5
Coco Carrasquilla 5
Griffin Dorsey 5
Brooklyn Raines 5
Tate Schmitt 5
Erik Sviatchenko 5
Brad Smith 5
Steve Clark 4.5
Jan Gregus 4

Sporting KC

Player Rating
Erik Thommy 7
Dany Rosero 6
Tim Melia 5
Andreu Fontas 5
Jake Davis 4.5
Remi Walter 4.5
Daniel Salloi 4.5
Nemanja Radoka 4.5
Tim Leibold 4.5
Zorhan Bassong 4
Alan Pulido 4
Willy Agada 4
Alenis Vargas 4
Stephen Afrifa 4
Memo Rodriguez 4
Johnny Russell 3.5

Overall, the Houston Dynamo team averaged a rating of 5.5, compared to Kansas City’s 4.5. Feels accurate. SKC were outplayed in most aspects, and apart from a few good moments, Houston will feel it was theirs to win.

Could Tim Melia have done more on the Houston goal? I saw some chatter about it, and I don’t know. I don’t think so. He was stuck and had to commit.

I did see WhoScored gave a much higher score to Tim Leibold, which is probably fair, though I suppose I don’t recall him playing significantly well or significantly poorly.

Johnny Russell and Pulido couldn’t hook up and seemed disconnected from the rest of the team to me. Pulido misplayed one good chance and threw out a frustrated foul. Russell picked up a yellow card too, and I don’t recall seeing him do much else.

My man of the match is Erik Thommy. I think if someone doesn’t score around that time, Houston will continue to dominate.

Again, if you told me opening day would be a 1-1 away draw with Houston, I would take it. If we can shake off some rust, get Sporting Fit™, and find a bit more cohesion, this season may not be half bad. Onward and upward, to next week!

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