Archive for Sporting KC

Sporting KC travels to Colorado on Saturday

Western Conference leader Sporting Kansas City (6-3-4, 22 points) wraps up a two-game road swing Saturday with a visit to to the last-place Colorado Rapids (2-8-1, 7 points) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.

The 60th regular season meeting between these MLS charter members will kick off at 7 p.m.

FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus will broadcast three hours of live coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m., while local radio broadcasts will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish

Sporting Kansas City enters Week 13 atop the Western Conference standings despite last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Forward Dom Dwyer, who missed the match with an injured knee, is listed as questionable ahead of this weekend’s clash in Colorado. The Englishman has missed two of Sporting KC’s last three games, but fellow attackers Gerso and Latif Blessing have helped compensate for the absence with multi-goal performances over the last fortnight. Blessing bagged a brace in a 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC on May 13, while Gerso scored a spectacular hat-trick four days later in a 3-0 rout of Seattle Sounders FC.

Defender Ike Opara was rested at Vancouver but is available for selection this weekend to join captain Matt Besler in central defense. Sporting Kansas City has conceded just five goals and lost just once in the 11 matches Opara has started this season.

That stingy record can partially be attributed to the stellar play of goalkeeper Tim Melia, who leads MLS with seven shutouts and an 82.0 save percentage (per Opta). He is one of three teammates to play every minute this year, alongside Besler and defensive midfield stalwart Ilie, who ranks among the MLS leaders in successful passes and duels won.

The Rapids were Major League Soccer’s surprise package in 2016, falling three point shy of the Supporters’ Shield title while losing just six games. Fortunes have been reversed this year, as Colorado has lost seven of its last eight since the start of April to drop to the Western Conference basement.

Head coach Pablo Mastroeni’s men took two road losses last week, falling 3-0 to the Chicago Fire before surrendering the lead in a 2-1 setback to the Philadelphia Union.

While Colorado has gone 0-6-0 away from home, the club remains a threat in the friendly confines of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids never lost at the venue last season, and in 2017 they boast home victories over the New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes.

Athletic forward Dominique Badji leads the side with three goals, while combative midfielder Micheal Azira is second in MLS with 36 interceptions.

The absence of center back Axel Sjoberg has only added to Colorado’s early struggles. The 6-foot-7 defender earned MLS Best XI honors in 2016 but has missed eight games this season with a hamstring injury.

Sjoberg returned to the fold last Saturday in Philadelphia, playing the full 90 minutes to give Mastroeni’s side a much-needed boost. That same night, forward Caleb Calvert scored his first MLS goal in spectacular fashion before picking up two yellow cards and a subsequent ejection. As a result, he will serve his one-game suspension this Saturday.

Sporting Kansas City dominated the first meeting between the sides this season, posting a 3-1 home victory on April 9 behind goals from Seth Sinovic, Gerso and Dwyer.

The result snapped a five-game losing streak to the Rapids, who swept the 2016 series with three one-goal wins. Sporting KC owns just one win in 10 regular season visits to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a 3-2 thriller in March 2014 that saw Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber and Dwyer score second-half goals.

– Story from Sporting KC

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Sporting KC drops match to Vancouver, 2-0

Sporting Kansas City suffered a 2-0 setback to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at BC Place.

Cristian Techera fired the hosts ahead on 40 minutes before Tim Parker doubled the lead in the 67th minute to give Vancouver all three points and snap Sporting Kansas City’s five-game unbeaten run in the head-to-head series.

Despite the defeat, Sporting Kansas City (6-3-4, 22 points) remains atop the Western Conference standings, six points ahead of sixth-place Vancouver.

A retooled Sporting Kansas City lineup included four changes from Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC.

Manager Peter Vermes notably awarded 23-year-old Canadian Tyler Pasher his MLS debut on the left side of a three-pronged attack that also featured Gerso – the hat-trick hero against Seattle – and Latif Blessing, who replaced the injured Dom Dwyer.

Soni Mustivar earned his first start of the season in midfield, filling in for the rested Benny Feilhaber, while Kevin Ellis stepped into central defense in place of the rested Ike Opara.

A cagey start saw neither side threaten until the 20th minute when Matt Besler’s wonderfully weighted long ball over the top was settled by Gerso inside the box. The Bissau-Guinean cut past Parker, hesitated for a second and shot under pressure, but the scuffled shot was cleared behind by Kendall Waston with Blessing lurking on the doorstep.

The visitors crafted another chance four minutes later off the right foot of Graham Zusi, but his in-swinging corner was headed wide at the far post by Blessing.

Vancouver landed the first punch in stunning fashion five minutes before intermission. Defender Sheanon Williams chased Waston’s long diagonal ball to the right corner flag and thumped a dangerous cross into the penalty area. Bolanos was stationed on the opposite side of the box to chest the ball back across the face of goal, where Techera volleyed low into the right corner from 12 yards to cap the brilliant scoring play.

Another corner kick from Zusi resulted in a clean look in the 44th minute, but Ilie’s strong header lacked the direction to beat Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted. Zusi asked further questions of the Whitecaps backline two minutes after the restart, flashing a right-footed shot wide from a tight angle.

Referee Baldomero Toledo gave Vancouver a penalty kick in the 53rd minute when Sinovic was deemed to have pushed Montero from behind following a service into the box. Goalkeeper Tim Melia promptly compensated for any controversy surrounding the call by diving low to his right and saving Montero’s ensuing spot kick – his second penalty kick save of the season – to keep Sporting Kansas City in the game.

Merely seconds after Melia’s penalty stop, Sporting Kansas City broke forward as Blessing ran onto substitute Jimmy Medranda’s through ball and saw his low strike saved by Ousted.

Vancouver’s best period of the afternoon unfolded around the hour mark, as Bolanos narrowly missed the target on two occasions before Techera curled a yard over the crossbar. It would be a precursor the game’s second and deciding goal in the 67th minute.

Sixteen-year-old Alphonso Davies won Vancouver a free kick on the left flank, and the resulting delivery from Bolanos was whipped into a crowded penalty area. Parker rose above the rest to direct a glancing header into the far right corner, recording his first career MLS goal in his 54th regular season appearance.

Both sides almost added to the scoring within the final 10 minutes, as a header from Montero hot the post before Gerso failed to make clean contact with the ball after it fell invitingly off a deflected effort from Feilhaber.

Having played three matches over the last eight days, Sporting Kansas City will rest and recover before hitting the road to face the Colorado Rapids Saturday at 7 p.m. The Western Conference clash will be televised live on FOX Sports Kansas City. Sporting KC won the first meeting between the sides this season on April 9, receiving goals from Sinovic, Gerso and Dwyer in a 3-1 result at Children’s Mercy Park.

– Story from Sporting KC

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Gerso’s three goals give Sporting KC the game

Gerso Fernandes scored a sensational hat-trick on Wednesday to power first-place Sporting Kansas City to an emphatic 3-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC at sold-out Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

The 26-year-old Bissau-Guinean was the first Kansas City player to record an MLS hat-trick since 2010, tallying three times in a rampant second-half performance as Sporting KC (6-2-4, 22 points) pushed its club-record home winning streak to 15 regular season matches – now the longest active run in Major League Soccer – at the expense of the reigning MLS Cup champion Sounders (2-5-4, 10 points).

Goalkeeper Tim Melia produced five saves en route to his league-leading seventh shutout of the season and his fifth in five career regular season appearances against the Sounders, helping Sporting Kansas City move to the summit of the Western Conference table while keeping Seattle stuck in ninth place.

Wednesday’s Retro Night contest was a rematch of the 2016 Western Conference Knockout Round at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, which the Sounders narrowly edged by a 1-0 score.

Sporting Kansas City extended its regular season unbeaten streak against Seattle to six matches (4-0-2) since the start of 2015.

Manager Peter Vermes made a single change to the Sporting Kansas City lineup as forward Dom Dwyer returned from a one-game suspension to replace Latif Blessing, the 20-year-old Ghanaian who scored both goals in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC.

Ike Opara notably earned his 50th regular season start for the club, joining captain Matt Besler in central defense to anchor a full-strength backline that also included fullbacks Seth Sinovic and Graham Zusi.

An ultimately resounding win saw the hosts begin slowly, as Sporting Kansas City failed to register a single shot attempt in the first half for the first time in the club’s regular season history.

U.S. international Jordan Morris was on the receiving end of the game’s first chance after seven minutes, but his cross was just beyond the reach of target forward Will Bruin. Five minutes later, Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro broke free down the right flank and struck low to force Melia into his first save of the evening.

Melia made two pivotal saves on the stroke of halftime, first thwarting Alvaro Fernandez with an outstretched foot after the Seattle midfielder had raced behind the defense on a breakaway. On the final play before intermission, Melia dove left at full extension to push Roldan’s cleanly struck, long-range blast marginally wide of the post.

Vermes’ men flipped the script entirely once action resumed after the break, converting their two-thirds of possession into chance-creating dominance.

Espinoza’s speculative effort in the 53rd minute was Sporting KC’s first of 12 shots during a second-half deluge. Two minutes later, Opara’s strong header off Benny Feilhaber’s corner kick was finger-tipped over the crossbar by Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Gerso bagged his first in the 56th minute when Feilhaber’s shallow corner kick was scuffed clear by Roldan. The winger was quick to react and rifled a left-footed strike that deflected through traffic and nestled just inside the near post, leaving Frei stranded and igniting celebrations inside the stadium.

Sporting Kansas City needed just two minutes to double the lead. Jimmy Medranda beat Oniel Fisher to a loose ball along the right sideline and swung a curling cross into the penalty area that Gerso struck with the outside of his left boot.

The ball pinged off the right post and caromed off Seattle defender Chad Marshall before rolling back into the path of Gerso, who took a composed touch before slotting past Frei to notch his brace.

A rare second-half foray from Seattle required Melia to sprawl left and save a low drive from Fernandez, not long before Gerso lashed high from the top of the box in the 67th minute.

History would be made in the 69th minute as a brilliant, flowing move from Sporting Kansas City culminated in the seventh MLS hat-trick in the club’s 22-year history.

Gerso broke down the left side and played centrally to Espinoza, who picked out Feilhaber 30 yards from goal. Zusi marauded into the box on the overlap, receiving a pass from Feilhaber and cutting the ball back close to the right endline.

Gerso had timed his run perfectly and hammered a right-footed effort high into the net from 12 yards, becoming the sixth player to score an MLS hat-trick in a Kansas City uniform. Feilhaber also reached a special milestone on the scoring play, picking up his 50th career assist in the MLS regular season.

Seattle’s frustrations were compounded in the 76th minute when Morris’ strike was overturned for offside. The visitors again almost salvaged a consolation goal in the dying embers of the match, but Seyi Adekoya’s header off Roldan’s lofted ball over the top was straight at Melia.

Sporting Kansas City will have just two days’ rest before returning to the field Saturday, as Vermes’ men travel north of the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4-5-1, 13 points) at BC Place. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest and FOX Sports GO.

– Story from Sporting KC

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