Sporting KC drops 3-0 decision versus D.C. United

Sporting Kansas City suffered a 3-0 defeat against D.C. United on Saturday at Sporting Park in a match-up of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

First half goals from Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe and Perry Kitchen powered the visitors in Sporting KC’s second home loss of the season.

D.C. United, the reigning U.S. Open Cup champions, did their damage in a seven-minute span that started in the 24th minute when Espindola cut inside from the left flank and curled his shot inside the far post from the edge of the penalty area. The Argentine striker has now scored in both games against Sporting KC this season and has nine on the season, most among D.C. United players.

Just over four minutes later, Rolfe beat the offside trap en route to his sixth goal of the season. Sporting KC goalkeeper Jon Kempin came well off his line and was able to get a touch in the one-versus-one situation, but it wasn’t enough to keep the shot from finding the back of the net.

Rolfe and Espindola — who have a combined 107 MLS regular season goals between them in their careers — have each scored in back-to-back matches for D.C. United, who were playing without designated player and former KC forward Eddie Johnson (suspension). Luis Silva earned assists on both goals, doubling his total for the season to four.

Sporting Kansas City’s deficit stretched to three by the 31st minute when D.C. United again found space behind the backline. This time it was Kitchen on the break and the 22-year-old made no mistake in slipping his shot beneath Kempin, giving D.C. United goals on each of their first three shots on goal of the game. The offensive outburst was the first time in 2014 that Sporting KC had conceded three times in MLS play.

Three days after returning from a mid-week CONCACAF Champions League match in Nicaragua, Sporting Kansas City’s best scoring opportunity of the opening 45 minutes came in the ninth minute. Benny Feilhaber unleashed a shot from 25 yards out that forced a diving save from D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to push it over the end line.

Hamid made three saves in the shutout, his sixth of the season and 26th of his MLS career. Saturday’s match was the first in MLS history in which both teams started homegrown goalkeepers, with Kempin making his second MLS start due to injuries to Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum.

A scoreless second half wasn’t without scoring opportunities for the two sides. Nick DeLeon struck his shot off the post in the 53rd minute and Sporting Kansas City responded with a pair of close chances on the opposite end.

Graham Zusi’s long-distance effort had Hamid beaten only to smash off the crossbar in the 60th minute. Then two minutes later, Soony Saad found space centrally and let loose an ambitious attempt that whistled inches wide of the post.

Dom Dwyer, the second leading scorer in MLS with 16 goals this season, connected on a cross from Igor Juliao in the 73rd minute and snapped his header on target from the penalty spot only to see Hamid go full extension to his right to make the sprawling stop.

The woodwork denied D.C. United a fourth goal in the game’s late moments. Second-half substitute David Estrada was on the end of a cross from Espindola and hit a first-time volley off the post from 15 yards out.

Entering the match with the League’s best goals against average, Sporting Kansas City has now gone nine MLS matches without a clean sheet. The stretch is the club’s longest span without a shutout since 2007. Additionally, Saturday’s loss was the team’s largest margin of defeat at Sporting Park and first three-goal loss at home since June 2010.

Sporting Kansas City now sits in second place in the Eastern Conference standings, one point back of D.C. United with nine games remaining in the regular season. The team will next play host to the Houston Dynamo at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29, at Sporting Park in a nationally televised rematch of the 2013 Eastern Conference Championship. A limited number of tickets remain available via Ticketmaster.com.

– Story from Sporting KC

D.C. United visits Sporting KC tonight in clash of Eastern Conference leaders

Sporting Kansas City will play host to D.C. United at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., in a battle of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

The match will be televised on KMCI’s 38 The Spot and SKCTV. Fans can listen to the match on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340 AM. A limited number of tickets are available and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or the Sporting Park box offices on game day.

Sporting KC has earned victories in six of its last eight matches against D.C. United including an undefeated record at Sporting Park (4-0-0). In those four matches, Sporting KC has secured three shutouts and conceded just one goal.

With 42 points, Sporting KC (12-6-6) is tied for first place in the Supporters’ Shield standings with the Seattle Sounders. D.C. United (12-7-4) boasts 40 points.

The match also features the two best defenses in Major League Soccer. Sporting KC leads MLS with 23 goals allowed and a 0.96 goals against average in 2014, while D.C. United ranks second with 26 goals conceded and a 1.13 goals against average.

Both teams are projected to start homegrown goalkeepers on Saturday. Twenty-one year-old Jon Kempin has appeared in Sporting KC’s last two matches earning back-to-back Save of the Week honors and Bill Hamid leads MLS with a save percentage of .758.

Fabian Espindola’s 16 combined goals and assists (eight each) are fourth-most in MLS entering the weekend behind only Robbie Keane, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer. The English striker has16 goals (second most in MLS for goals scored) and one assist in 2014 including two penalty kick goals in Sporting KC’s last MLS match, a 4-1 victory over Toronto FC. D.C. United earned a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rapids at RFK Stadium in the team’s most recent MLS outing.

Both teams are coming off midweek CCL matches. Sporting KC earned a 1-1 draw in Nicaragua against Real Esteli FC with Toni Dovale’s leveling the match in the 16th minute. D.C. United earned a 1-0 victory against Jamaican side Waterhouse FC, with Eddie Johnson scoring the lone goal in the contest.

Johnson will be unavailable for selection by head coach Ben Olsen as he serves the second of a two-game suspension for violent conduct toward defender Carlos Salcedo in the 30th minute of D.C.’s match against Real Salt Lake on Aug. 9.

Fans are encouraged to allow additional time for parking on Saturday due to Throttle Fest KC. Visit SportingKC.com/parking for an updated parking map. Additionally, the first 10,000 fans to arrive at Sporting Park will receive a roller banner. Supporters are permitted to bring one 20-ounce sealed water bottle due to heat advisory. The bottle will be uncapped at the gate.

For in-game updates, visit SportingKC.com/GameOn or follow @SKCGameday on Twitter.

– Story from Sporting KC

T-Bones beat Sox in slugfest

Kansas City outlasted Amarillo on Wednesday night in a 7-6 victory at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.

The T-Bones took an early lead in the second inning of what would turn out to be a back and forth ballgame. Following a Ray Sadler single, Bryan Sabatella wasted no time extending his 13-game hitting streak, shooting a double to deep center field and scoring Sadler. With his hit, Sabatella matched Robby Kuzdale for the longest hitting streak on the club this season.

The T-Bones tacked on three more runs in the third. Vladimir Frias led off the inning with a triple and later scored when Danny Richar grounded out. Matt Padgett and Ray Sadler then hit back-to-back solo home runs, extending the Kansas City lead to 4-0.

Amarillo stormed back in the fifth, scoring five runs on Kansas City starter Joe Van Meter (1-1). Former T-Bones player Kyle Nichols put an exclamation point on the frame, crushing a three-run home run to left field and putting the Sox in front, 5-4. It was the 200th career home run for Nichols, who spent part of 2013 with the T-Bones.

Kansas City took the lead right back in its half of the fifth. T.J. Mittelstaedt led off with a walk and then scored when Richar doubled to left field. Sabatella grounded into a fielder’s choice later in the inning, scoring Richar and putting Kansas City back in the lead. The T-Bones tacked on another run before the inning came to a close with Kansas City in the lead, 7-5.

Van Meter’s only hiccup was Amarillo’s five-run fifth. He tossed 6 innings and picked up his first win with Kansas City. Ryan Rogers (1-1), who came on in relief in the fifth and only threw seven pitches, took the loss. Kris Regas allowed the tying run to reach third base in the ninth, but managed to secure his 18th save.

With the win, the T-Bones move to 40-48 on the season, while the Sox fall to 31-55. Kansas City begins a four-game series at Gary SouthShore (47-42) Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. The game can be heard on 1660-AM or watched live online at tbonesbaseball.com.

Box score: http://www.pointstreak.com/baseball/boxscoretext.html?gameid=178183
– Story from T-Bones