By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
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.
Featured image: Araceli Villanueva
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