Sporting Kansas City secured a 1-0 road victory on Saturday against New York City FC, handing the expansion side their first MLS defeat in front of a sold-out crowd of 27,545 – including 200 of the team’s traveling supporters – at Yankee Stadium.
Ike Opara headed home a Matt Besler throw-in for his second goal of the season and Luis Marin made three saves to extend the team’s current shutout streak to 197 minutes.
Sporting KC’s two central defenders combined for the game’s lone goal at the 12-minute mark.
With eight NYCFC players stationed in the goal mouth to defend the throw-in, Opara rose above Kwame Watson-Siriboe to connect with the 35-yard throw from Besler toward the top of the six-yard box and directed a powerful header past Josh Saunders.
Opara also scored on a header in the club’s season opener and now has eight career MLS goals, five of which have come since 2013 – third most by an MLS defender over the last three seasons. Similarly, Besler has eight career MLS assists and all but two have come from throw-ins.
New York City FC, who led the East entering Saturday’s inaugural match-up, was held scoreless for the second straight week.
Marin was called into action early on Saturday with his first of three saves coming on a Ned Grabavoy attempt in the opening minute. Javier Calle logged a game-high four shots in his first MLS start – in place of Adam Nemec (international duty) and David Villa (injury) – but was twice turned away by Marin with efforts from outside the penalty area in the 40th and 55th minutes.
Sporting Kansas City came close to doubling its lead in the 64th minute through the playmaking abilities of Benny Feilhaber. The World Cup veteran fed Dom Dwyer behind the NYCFC backline with a pass from midfield, however Saunders raced off his line to win the ball with a sliding challenge.
Both sides were missing key players and Sporting Kansas City saw Graham Zusi exit in the 39th minute due to injury (hamstring).
In addition, the visitors were without 2015 starters Roger Espinoza (international duty), Marcel de Jong (international duty) and Krisztian Nemeth (injury) while NYCFC were shorthanded due to the absences of Shay Facey (suspended), Khiry Shelton (international duty), George John (injury) and Sebastian Velasquez (injury).
Sporting Kansas City is now 7-1-2 in initial meetings against expansion (or relocated) clubs since 2005 and adds Yankee Stadium to the list of stadiums in which clubs have suffered their first loss against KC (BBVA Compass Stadium, BMO Field, Qwest Field, Rio Tinto Stadium, Robertson Stadium and Spartan Stadium).
Coincidentally, Saturday’s match was Sporting Kansas City’s 300th regular season road game and the team’s 100th road win across all competition in club history.
The team now returns home to play host to the Philadelphia Union at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 5, at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. The match will be shown live on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes. A limited number of tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com and the first 10,000 fans inside the gates will receive a commemorative Dom Dwyer print, painted by Kansas Citian John Bukaty and presented by adidas.
- Story from Sporting KC