Sporting Kansas City (15-8-6, 1st place) closed out the club’s slate of cross-conference matches with a 2-0 loss at the Philadelphia Union (14-12-4, 5th place) on Sunday inside rain-soaked Talen Energy Stadium.
Jay Simpson and John McCarthy capitalized on their first starts of the season with Simpson bagging a brace and McCarthy recording six saves for the clean sheet.
After snapping Seattle’s nine-game winning streak on Wednesday, Philadelphia opened on the front foot with David Accam cutting inside along the edge of the penalty area and sending his shot narrowly over the bar in the eighth minute.
Two minutes later, Tim Melia produced his first – and finest – save of the day to deny Simpson from eight yards out.
Sporting Kansas City responded to the early pressure with a pair of scoring chances of their own as the match approached the half-hour mark.
Gerso Fernandes ran onto a through ball from Roger Espinoza and cut past McCarthy only to then send his shot into the side netting.
In short succession, McCarthy – making his first MLS appearance in over a year – would be called into action again to collect Johnny Russell’s attempt for one of two first-half saves.
The second would come in the 40th minute as the former USL Goalkeeper and Rookie of the Year kept out a first-time effort from Fernandes after Russell did well to cut the ball back and pick out his fellow forward just past the penalty mark.
On the opposite end, Sporting Kansas City survived a close call in the 36th minute when Fabian Herbers’ shot deflected off the leg of Matt Besler en route to crashing off the crossbar.
The rebound fell to Simpson, whose follow-up was destined for the back of the net if not for Seth Sinovic’s goal line clearance. Borek Dockal would try his luck at breaking the deadlock moments later, however Melia was up to the task with a sprawling save to his left despite another deflection altering the shot’s trajectory.
The second half would continue to produce goalkeeping highlights, beginning in the 54th minute. Espinoza’s lofted cross was met at the back post by Felipe Gutierrez, whose header was superbly pushed wide of target by McCarthy after skipping off the wet surface.
Krisztian Nemeth, twice racing onto the end of Graham Zusi crosses, and Fernandes, slicing a shot inches wide himself, would continue to cause problems for the Union, but it was the home side that opened the scoring against the run of play in the 71st minute.
Auston Trusty’s floated free kick into the penalty area was won by Bedoya with a header that fell to the foot of Simpson.
The 29-year-old Englishman made no mistake with a perfectly-placed volley into the bottom left corner for his first goal of the season to give his squad a 1-0 lead.
Sporting Kansas City would push numbers forward in search of an equalizer and force two late saves from McCarthy, first to thwart a blistering blast from Zusi in the 82nd minute and then a tremendous touch to block Nemeth’s shot from sneaking inside the post in the 88th minute.
Instead of a game-tying goal at the death, it was Philadelphia that tallied the game’s final goal with Simpson striking again in the 89th minute.
Two second-half substitutes combined on the scoring sequence with Fafa Picault providing the service to Bedoya on a well-timed run behind the backline. Bedoya astutely laid the ball off via a header for Simpson and the forward buried the ball into the back of the net to cap his breakthrough performance.
Sporting Kansas City, held scoreless for the first time in 11 MLS matches, remains atop the Western Conference with second-place FC Dallas in action at Vancouver tonight.
While the Union head for Houston for the 2018 U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday, Sporting KC returns home to play host to Real Salt Lake at 4 p.m. next Sunday in a nationally-televised match-up on FS1. A limited number of tickets are available and can be purchased by calling 888-4KC-GOAL or visiting SeatGeek.com.
– Story from Sporting KC