Sporting Kansas City fell to D.C. United in a steep 1-0 loss on a rainy afternoon at Audi Field on Sunday night.
The injury list continues to grow with Graham Zusi now joining the ranks due to an oblique injury. Although both veterans (Matt Besler and Zusi) were listed as questionable, neither one appeared in the eighteen – giving Ilie Sanchez the opportunity to wear the captain’s band for the first time. The match also marked Seth Sinovic‘s 200th career MLS start. As well, introduced an old friend back to the lineup, Benny Feilhaber.
English captain Wayne Rooney was the first to test Tim Melia in the 14th minute – when he fired a strike from 25 yards out. Fortunately, the 31-year-old keeper made a full-stretch save to punch the ball away from the danger. Melia would go on to make a total of three saves.
Given ten players were out due to injury and only four players, including the goalkeeper, available on the bench, Sporting KC did well to hold the host scoreless into the second half.
Paul Arriola would finally break the goalless drought in the 78th minute when Wayne Rooney passed a perfect ball to Arriola, who then tucked it in the net by mere inches.
The goal gave the visitors an energy boost as they went on to create two solid opportunities in the final twelve minutes. But it wouldn’t be enough. Krisztian Nemeth instantly received a chance to equalize when he jumped on a giveaway and carried the ball toward goal, but his near-post shot goes wide.
A final chance at redemption saw late-half substitute Kelyn Rowe curl in a ball into a crowded box to find Graham Smith, but his header goes wide ending the match in a 1-0 loss.
Sporting KC’s winless skid continues. Now the club will have a three-game stretch at home, so hopefully, they can pick up some points at CMP before heading on the road for four-straight matches. First up, the club will host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 18.
Sporting Kansas City fell to Atlanta United 3-0; snapping their home unbeaten run on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park. It was the first time the home team lost to the reigning MLS Cup Champions.
With multiple injuries plaguing the roster – and missing key starters like Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza – Vermes fielded an almost unrecognizable lineup with only five subs available on the bench. Two of which earned their first MLS starts – Graham Smith and Gedion Zelalem (made his club debut). Kelyn Rowe and Botond Barath returned to the starting XI.
Sporting KC kicked off the match with a good opportunity when Graham Zusi unleashed a long-range curler that carried marginally beyond the right-hand post. Shortly thereafter, Atlanta’s Pity Martinez cut centrally onto his left foot and dragged a low shot wide of the near post.
The home side would earn another chance after Krisztian Nemeth could have recorded his 11th off a corner kick by Johnny Russell in the 13th minute, but his glancing header on the edge of the six-yard box missed the mark.
And then it stopped?
With both sides holding close to equal possession and overall passing accuracy, it seemed they locked in a game of keep away, as they passed the ball back-and-forth without creating any solid chances for a full 15 minutes.
*Writer’s note: I’m not suggesting no one was trying to create an opportunity, I just found the situation odd.
Just as it appeared the match would go scoreless into halftime, Josef Martinez opened the scoring for Atlanta in the 39th minute after retrieving the rebound off of Tim Melia at short range. Martinez went down briefly after a collision with the keeper. But he returned to the pitch uninjured to score the game winner in the 76th minute.
Two minutes after the restart, Atlanta doubled the lead. Sporting failed to clear a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and a shot fell invitingly to Ezequiel Barco, who made right-footed strike down the middle into the left side of the post.
Melia did well to deny the 20-year-old nine minutes later, then produced another reflex stop on a strike from Miles Robinson.
Down by two, Sporting KC ran the ball down to try to close the gap and earned two solid opportunities in the process. But as the script goes, Kelyn Rowe’s thunderous effort from the top of the box was blocked and Nemeth’s 22-yard curler skimmed over the woodwork.
In the 65th minute, the energy changed as Ilie entered the match in a double substitution.
Ilie did not appear once in training this past week and he was listed as questionable. So it’s understandable the predicament Vermes was forced into. And one he will probably see himself again:
“The problem is I don’t have the whole team available. It’s not just one guy. When you have a team – and every team has their starters – to then have to supplant all those guys with new players, it’s very hard.”
Regardless, the Spaniard still had a solid attempt shortly after Russell cuts into the middle and forces Guzan into a leaping save with a left-footed curler that bounced off the top corner in the 73rd minute. But the striker couldn’t put his strike within the frame.
Ultimately, it was Martinez’s second goal that gave Sporting KC their first loss of the season at home in a 3-0 deficit.
Even though frustration filled the locker room, the team remains optimistic about the future. Especially with the newcomers earning more playing opportunities:
“I thought the two center backs did a really good job. It’s a quality team with a lot of attacking minded players that are really good at combining and for the most part, till maybe the 70th minute we did a really good job shutting [Atlanta] down.” Melia told the press.
Seth Sinovic added: “I think everyone had their moments. I think everybody got the opportunity to improve, not just the new guys but the experienced guys. And it’s on the experience guys that have not only played a lot of games in the league but a lot of games in a sporting uniform – we have to be better leaders. We got to do a better job and we’re not filling that job right now.”
Next up, Sporting KC will travel to Audi Field to face Wayne Rooney and D.C. United for the first time.
“We have to concentrate on our first day back at training. Making sure we’re doing everything there [..] we build them correctly for the game against [D.C. United],” said Melia. “We just got to get back to being us. And look at one game at a time.”
Slow starts and multiple injuries plague the club. But canSporting Kansas Citybounce back before it’s too late?
Sporting KC is currently in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, under Real Salt Lake – who fell to the LA Galaxy this past weekend. Even though they are undefeated at home, the defense is suffering due to multiple injuries. A list that is still dangerously growing.
The club confirmed on Wednesday morning, Gerso Fernandes underwent surgery for a broken wrist – now joining a long list of injuries:
Matt Belser (hamstring strain)
Roger Espinoza (PCL sprain)
Rodney Wallace (hip)
Jaylin Lindsey (torn meniscus)
Jimmy Medranda (knee)
Erik Hurtado (knee)
Only Besler is expected to return within the next month. Jimmy Medrandais set to return in June or July after a lengthy absence. This week he returned to training as a “neutral player,” which Manager Peter Vermes called: a step in the right direction.
The injuries are also affecting training as Tuesday’s training session was canceled due to a limited amount of players available – nine players were out. “This is the most guys we’ve ever had out,” Vermes told the press.
Midfielder Ilie Sanchez echoed similar frustrations:
“That’s unlucky for us. We are struggling in that area. […] Because fútbol is a contact sport. You are constantly getting hit [and] in pain. Most of those injured are coming from that contact against the opponent. This will change and we will get better. We will get players recovered, so that will help the team to have better dynamics.”
Although Sporting Kansas City is not the only MLS team to participate in the Concacaf Champions League this year, I was still wary of the effects it could have on the roster in the long run. The team had a great run in the CCL but it clearly came with a cost.
But it’s not over, yet. Even though we would normally see these type of injuries during the mid-season, it’s still early in the season for Sporting KC to turn things around.
Can we get players from the USL side, Swope Park Rangers? Technically, yes.
When asked about the possibility, Vermes explained:
“The problem is, the mechanisms are not in our favor. So we have to drop below fourteen available players before we can actually pull a player from the Swope Park Rangers for a short term loan. So it’s a catch 22, you don’t want to be in that place but then again – maybe you do, because you need the players.”
Though it is important to note that Vermes hope we’re “returning players” to avoid that situation.
The team will most likely have to rely on Daniel Salloi – who has been doing well at training. Along with Johnny Russell, Kristztián Nemeth, Graham Zusi, etc. while their teammates recover. Plus, Gianluca Busio and Tyler Freeman are with the United States U-17s.
Sporting KC is set to host reigning MLS Cup ChampionsAtlanta United on Sunday, May 5. And looking forward, the players are staying optimistic.
“It’s mental and hopefully that throughout this week, we look back and see the things we have – obviously with the injuries. And the fact that we do need to jell together as a team in different positions. Hopefully, this week we’ll determine that,” Kelyn Rowe stated.
Just three days after being eliminated from the 2019 Concacaf Champions League in a semifinal defeat to Monterrey, Sporting Kansas City returned to MLS action. And their return did not go as expected as they earned a 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
New York had entered Sunday with a three-game losing streak and successfully avoided a fourth straight defeat thanks to improved performance in the second half. It was the first time Sporting KC hosted their East Coast rivals since the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.
On the brink of falling below the line in the standings, Sporting KC displayed a sense of urgency after Gerso Fernandes created instant danger for the visitors after going down to the left side to send in a cross. Five minutes later, Felipe Gutierrez forced a diving save from Luis Robles.
Johnny Russell came close to earning the early goal in the 10th minute after dismantling the Red Bulls’ defense however his close-range shot missed the net by mere inches. Moments later, the Scotsman notched the game opener with a low strike in the 24th minute; scoring his fourth goal this season.
Sporting KC led the match 1-0 into halftime. But it wouldn’t take long for New York to flip the script and level the match. Shortly after the restart, Daniel Royer broke through SKC’s defense and got around Tim Melia for the equalizer.
Brian White doubled the Red Bulls’ lead in the 75th minute with a diving header – following a sequence of plays from Kaku and Aaron Long.
Is Gianluca Busio Sporting KC’s new secret weapon? Maybe.
Fresh off the bench, the 16-year-old struck the equalizer past Robles to secure the draw for the home side in the 88th minute, as he did in Cincinnati last weekend. Graham Zusi’s low drive through a crowded penalty area reached the young Sporting KC Academy product, who coolly steered the ball home from close range to record his fourth career MLS goal.
During the final minutes of stoppage time, a mass confrontation broke out after Red Bulls’ Kaku sent a strike into the stands at point-blank range. This act caused the home side to jump to the fan’s defense, invoking a two squad square off.
Kaku was ultimately shown a red for violent conduct and ejected from the match. Sibiga then issued cautions to Luis Robles and Krisztian Nemeth for unsporting behavior in the brawl. Following the final whistle, players from both sides greeted the fan and to see if he was doing well.
Fight club antics aside, after facing three consecutive teams from the Eastern Conference – Sporting KC will return to the road in the West when they travel to San Jose to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, April 20.
Sporting Kansas City earns a hard-fought point on the road in a 1-1 draw against FC Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon at Nippert Stadium. The 16-year-old, Gianluca Busio scored the equalizer; becoming the youngest player in MLS history to score in back-to-back matches.
Manager Peter Vermes mixed things up when he drastically changed the lineup for the first time this season. With more than half of the regular starters missing, Sunday’s match introduced Adrian Zendejas, Nicolas Hasler, Rodney Wallace, and Gedion Zalem; all of whom made their club debuts.
Zendejas was quickly called into action just seconds after kickoff when Kenny Saief struck in a shot off of a low cross from Allan Cruz. But his attempt was blocked by the 23-year-old keeper. Yohan Croizet, who made his first start as a central forward, was quick to reply but was denied by Spencer Richey.
The 17th minute was nothing short of dramatic. Roland Lamah was fouled by Ilie Sanchez who brought him down following a miscue from Zendejas. After the play underwent review, the caution was mistakenly given to Ilie and instead shown to Andreu Fontas. A penalty was awarded to FC Cincinnati. Darren Mattocks stepped up and covered the first penalty in FCC’s history.
Fortunately, the Chula Vista native managed to disband Mattocks’ attempt to double the lead in the 27th minute.
Although it was clear from the start the heavy rotation was taking a toll on some players – the squad still created a few dangerous chances. For example, Kelyn Rowe and Busio proved to be a good tag team, as the duo produced two huge chances. The first came in the 33rd minute after Busio helped direct the ball to Rowe, but he hit it over the post. The second chance resulted in the equalizer.
SKC would get another huge opportunity to tie things up before the half in the 37th minute when Johnny Russell curled a shot into the back of the net, but his goal was called offsides.
Kelyn Rowe sent a long shot to Busio who ran the equalizer home into an open net in the 63rd minute. A miscommunication between Greg Garza and Richey would give the 16-year-old his second goal of the campaign.
The remainder of the second half saw SKC get chance after chance, but all opportunities would either go wide of the post or were saved by Spencer Richey. The second half also included regular starters, like Krisztian Nemeth, who entered the match for Croizet in the 70th minute.
Now sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference, Sporting KC will switch gears once again as they host C.F. Monterrey for the second leg of the Concacaf semifinals on Thursday, April 11.
Sporting Kansas City finally kicked off the regular season at home with a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union to an electric crowd at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday.
After dropping the MLS season opener in Los Angeles and the first leg in Panama for the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals, Sporting KC switched gears and returned to Kansas City.
Missing Roger Espinoza due to red card suspension and Andreu Fontás to an injury – a reshuffled lineup introduced 16-year-old, Gianluca Busio, the youngest MLS starter in Children’s Mercy Park history.
Busio wasted little time proving his starting role, drawing a penalty kick in the ninth minute after Johnny Russell and Krisztian Nemeth exchanged passes in the penalty area. In a scramble to win the ball, the Union’s Auston Trusty tripped Busio from behind, and referee Chris Penso immediately called the foul. Ilie Sanchez stepped up and converted the penalty kick to give the home side the early lead.
Moments later, the Union would have a chance to equalize after Seth Sinovic was called for handball infraction inside the box, but as luck would have it – goalkeeper Tim Melia was a game changer as he dove low to push away Marco Fabian’s attempt, securing Sporting KC’s 1-0 lead into the half. Melia earned his eighth penalty kick save since joining the club in 2015, surpassing his former mentor; Nick Rimando’s record of five penalty kick saves.
The Union was reduced to 10 men after Fabian received a straight red card in the 60th minute. Graham Zusi sent a thunderous strike to see it miss the goal by inches and bounce off the post. Minutes later, Melia was called back into action catching the ball mid-air off a header by Cory Burke.
The 16-year-old midfielder earned a chance to score his first MLS goal in the 77th minute; after Ilie sent a pass over the top falling to Busio, who then try to run the ball into an open net but was denied by a last-minute save by Trusty.
Own goals. We love own goals.
In the 80th minute, Kelyn Rowe sent a pass to Gerso Fernandes but Philadelphia’s Jack Elliott intercepted the play; and instead of clearing out the danger, Elliott kicked the ball past Blake doubling Sporting’s lead 2-0. Even though it technically wasn’t counted as an assist for Rowe, we’ll make an exception.
The last ten minutes saw both sides exchange passes until the final whistle awarding Sporting KC a 2-0 shutout and three points.
Sporting KC will prepare to host Panamanian side Independent in the decisive second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals; before going back on the road to face the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, March 17.
Sporting Kansas City opened up the 2019 season with a historic 3-0 victory on Liga MX’s Deportivo Toluca FC last Thursday night in the first leg of the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16.
Krisztian Nemeth, Gerso Fernandes and Ilie Sanchez delivered all three winning goals – making Sporting KC the second MLS team to defeat a Mexican club by three goals in CCL history.
Sporting KC has spent the last few days training in Albuquerque, New Mexico to get acclimated to the altitude before traveling to Toluca, Mexico for the decisive second leg on Thursday, February 28. Kickoff is slated for 9 p.m. CT at Estadio Nemesio Diez.
Admittedly, I was a little hesitant with the idea of Sporting KC advancing in the tournament considering the 2019 MLS season begins next weekend. But after seeing what Sporting KC accomplished Thursday night – I feel this team can handle a busy schedule balancing the CCL while trying to stay atop the Western Conference.
On a chilly evening in Children’s Mercy Park, it seemed Toluca would take the early lead. In the fourth minute, Luis Mendoza barreled down the left flank and cut centrally on the edge of the box, only to see his curler go beyond the left-hand post.
The home side would continue to dominate the game from then on, deflating Toluca’s defense with every chance they got. Vermes’ men finally drew first blood in the 35th minute when Nemeth fired a low shot past Alfredo Talavera – ringing in the first goal of 2019 with remarkable fashion.
Nemeth would get a second chance to double the score just three minutes after the restart but he would see his chance go over the bar. Toluca then came close to leveling the match in the 50th minute – with Emmanuel Gigliotti’s close-range side volley flying over the net.
Gerso doubled the score just two minutes after sending a rocket straight into the corner.
Seth Sinovic was phenomenal in defense and ran consistent plays leaving Toluca’s defenders in the dust. Even though, Sinovic would eventually run out of steam; in the 72nd minute, Ilie sealed the deal with a jaw-dropping volley from 20 yards out.
Sporting KC sought out a fourth goal for the duration of the match while managing to keep Toluca out of the danger zone. With the help of newcomers Kelyn Rowe and Erik Hurtado – who made their official club debuts late in the half – the home side secured the 3-0 advantage for the second leg this week.
All Sporting KC needs to do is score a fourth goal or hold Toluca to a scoreless draw. Should Toluca win 3-0 to level the aggregate at 3-3, the match will go straight to penalties and 30 minutes of extra time will not be played.
With roster changes in hand, the only thing Sporting KC would have to worry about is Toluca’s new manager. Earlier this week, Toluca club legend Hernan Cristante was replaced by interim boss Jose Luis Real. Toluca iscurrently on a seven-game winless streak.
“I think it’s going to be great. We’re still in that preseason mode because this was our first game. We obviously did everything we could for the first game. And obviously, it worked out for us. We played very well but now it’s on to the next one. I think there’s a few things we can tidy up. And we’re going to train in New Mexico, train at altitude and make sure we’re ready for this game in Toluca,” Rowe said.
Sporting Kansas City is Champions League-ready following the conclusion of their 2019 preseason run with 4-1 and 1-1 results in split-squad matches at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.
In the first match, Houston Dynamo was quick to take the early lead in the 5th minute, as Alberth Elis picked up a loose ball and fired it past Tim Melia into the bottom corner.
Houston’s short victory did not last long—Johnny Russell curled in a beautiful shot off of a cross by Krisztián Németh to level the match in the 11th minute.
Regaining possession and some confidence, Felipe Gutierrez put Sporting KC back ahead after sliding one in from Seth Sinovic. The goal was initially ruled out for offside but was allowed after the play underwent review from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Six minutes later, Németh scored by firing into the corner from Gerso after Sporting KC forced a turnover—bringing the tally up 3-1.
Sinovic came close to adding another goal to Sporting KC’s score—after sending one from down the middle in the 41st minute. However, his chance went straight into Joe Willis’ arms; ending the first half 3-1.
The tide turned as Houston’s Romell Quioto tried to score a corner, but Matt Besler was quick to deny it. Then, a header by Mauro Manotas went straight to Melia. Despite all efforts, Sporting KC’s backline continued to pressure and keep Houston away from the goal as they pushed forward.
Late in the second half, both sides shared a red card each, as first Quioto was shown a straight red for a sliding challenge on Gutierrez, and then Roger Espinoza was ejected for a pair of yellow cards. This forced both teams to play with ten men, but it didn’t stop the momentum.
Just when it seemed the match would end 3-1, Graham Zusi freed Nemeth from the backline, who took the ball and clipped it over Dynamo’s goalkeeper to make the final score 4-1.
In the other split-squad match on a separate field at Kino Sports Complex, Sporting KC battled to a 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo.
Similar to the first game, both sides traded plays until Yohan Croizet opened up the scoring for Sporting KC with a right-footed, 30-yard strike. Shortly after the break, Memo Rodriguez got the equalizer. After a chippy half, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Sporting KC will continue to train in Arizona before returning to a chilly Kansas City to host Toluca FC on Thursday, Feb. 21 for the first-leg of the Champions League.
The club will play their second match at 11:30 am CT on Wednesday, January 23 when the home side faces a team comprised of USL’s Phoenix Rising FC trialists.
Before Sporting KC set off to Scottsdale for the fifth-straight year, players reported to Pinnacle earlier this month for physicals and welcomed their new teammates: Erik Hurtado, Kelyn Rowe, and Rodney Wallace.
Along with the newest additions to the squad, Sporting KC took a total of 39 players to Arizona. Including four members of the Swope Park Rangers, eight Sporting KC Academy products and five current Academy players, all under the age of 23, and MLS SuperDraft picks Kamar Marriott, Camden Riley, and Franky Martinez. All three players selected in the draft are currently unsigned. Additionally, Daniel Johnson – former midfielder for the Chicago Fire – is the lone trialist this preseason.
Among the thirteen Academy players, ten featured in Sporting KC’s preseason win: the senior team quintet of Daniel Salloi, Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey, Wan Kuzain, and Tyler Freeman; Rangers trio Felipe Hernandez, Wilson Harris and Will Little; and current Academy standouts Mo Abualnadi and Jake Davis.
Looking at the roster – it appears the squad’s main core – whom most signed new contracts before the 2018 season ended – is back. However, we can still potentially lose players – as seen with the three-team trade in early December which sent Diego Rubio to the Colorado Rapids and saw Sporting KC gain Kelyn Rowe and $300,000 in allocation money.
Sporting KC is set to play seven friendlies in Arizona before returning to Kansas City to host Club Deportivo Toluca in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday, February 21.
Sporting Kansas City‘s 2018 season came to an abrupt end on Thursday night in a devastating season-ending 3-2 loss against the Portland Timbers in leg two of the Western Conference Final at Children’s Mercy Park.
In front of a sold-out, energetic crowd Sporting KC delivered a solid performance filled with chances, goals and controversial calls.
Sporting KC kicked off the match maintaining strong possession that later helped Daniel Salloi earn the chance to claim an early lead for the home side in the 20th minute.
However, things turned sour quickly after the restart when Sebastian Blanco blasted a strike into the top corner, to level the match in the 52nd. Blanco’s strike would stun fans and even fellow captainDiego Valeri – who gained a surge of energy to double the Timbers lead nine minutes later.
Now trailing 2-1, the home side had to rally quick. In the 81st minute, Sporting KC would get a glimpse of hope as Gerso Fernandes scored the equalizer after a brilliant combination from the team. On the cusp, of potentially scoring another goal to advance, the match went into sudden death for the final remainder of the half.
Despite all effort, Sporting KC’s offseason would begin deep into a grueling nine-minute stoppage time after Valeri’s breakaway finish – claiming the Western Conference Champion title and stamping the Timber’s ticket to the MLS Cup.
As fans thanked one another for their dedication, several Sporting KC players took to Twitter to express their disappointment and gratitude:
It's hard to find the words tonight. Work all season for nothing at all. It is a painful feeling. A big thank you to our supporters for the unconditional support all season long. You stay the best for us. A big thank you to my teammates, staff and all the people in the club…
Even Daniel Salloi appeared to have hinted to be returning to the Blue Hell next season following speculation of transfer rumors for Europe:
Such an amazing season and it deserved a better ending. We’ll learn from our mistakes and get back even stronger. Thanks for your unbelievable support, I love everything about this team and proud to wear this jersey 💙 Happy Holidays my friends! ⚽️ #DS20pic.twitter.com/0m7x6l9CoC
Not even 24 hours after the loss, the club dug a little deeper into fans’ wounds by announcing which players have had contract options declined: forward Kharlton Belmar, midfielder Cristian Lobato, defenders Amer Didic, Brad Evans and Colton Storm.
At the end of the day, the contract options didn’t come as a shock to fans, since most of the core group (Matt Belser, Graham Zusi, Seth Sinovic, Roger Espinoza, and Ilie Sanchez) had recently re-signed. And with the addition of long-time veterans like goalkeeper Tim Melia, next season is shaping up to be a promising one.