Sporting KC suffers late match loss, 2-1, and is out of playoff contention

Sporting Kansas City’s club-record eight-year playoff streak was snapped Wednesday night in a late 2-1 loss to Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Botond Barath opened his MLS scoring account to give Sporting (10-15-7, 37 points) an early lead, but Minnesota (15-10-7, 52 points) responded with a 70th-minute equalizer from veteran Osvaldo Alonso before substitute Hassani Dotson struck in the 90th minute to seal the comeback and officially eliminate manager Peter Vermes’ side from postseason contention.

Sporting entered the night needing a victory in order to preserve their slim playoff hopes.

Wednesday’s result — the fourth straight loss in which Sporting scored first — means the club will miss the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2010.

The Loons, meanwhile, have clinched their first postseason berth in club history with two regular season matches to spare.

Vermes’ men will now turn their attention to Sunday’s home finale at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Kickoff against the Portland Timbers is set for 6:30 p.m. and tickets remain available at SeatGeek.com, with the first 5,000 fans through the stadium gates receiving a free headband.

The Western Conference clash will also air live on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.

Four days removed from a 3-2 home defeat to the Colorado Rapids, Sporting rolled out three lineup changes against the Loons.

With Matt Besler serving a red card suspension, Ilie Sanchez took the captain’s armband and dropped from midfield into central defense. Academy product Gianluca Busio filled the resulting gap in the middle of the park, while forwards Erik Hurtado and Daniel Salloi replaced Krisztian Nemeth and Gerso Fernandes up top.

The visitors started brightly and needed just seven minutes to draw first blood.

Johnny Russell played a short corner kick to Zusi before settling a return ball with space on the right flank. The Scottish international whipped a teasing cross into the six-yard area, where Barath was on hand to poke home past Loons goalkeeper Vito Mannone for his first goal in a Sporting uniform.

Minnesota wasted a brilliant opportunity to draw level six minutes later when Mason Toye blasted high from point-blank range off a pinpoint Kevin Molino feed.

An equally big change went begging at the opposite end shortly thereafter, with Erik Hurtado latching onto Luis Martin’s superb service only to see his first-time effort carry inches wide of Mannone’s left-hand post.

Mannone produced a pair of fantastic saves in the 26th minute to prevent Sporting from doubling their advantage.

The Italian first dove at full extension to get his mitts to Zusi’s 22-yard piledriver, then reclaimed his footing to turn aside Busio’s deflected volley on the rebound.

Russell was next to take attacking initiative, splitting two defenders on 39 minutes and lacing a shot narrowly over the bar.

Two minutes shy of halftime, Busio flashed his undeniable skill by heading the ball past former Sporting defender Ike Opara and forcing Mannone into a reflex stop at his near post.

A half-chance would then present itself for Minnesota, but Darwin Quintero’s header lacked the power and placement to beat Melia.

Sporting remained on the front foot after the restart, and the increasingly confident Busio smacked the woodwork off a cushioned header from Daniel Salloi in the 64th minute.

The next good look fell to Russell, who muscled through a slew of defenders and prompted Mannone to sprawl low and make yet another save.

Minnesota made Sporting pay for its profligacy in the 70th minute. Jan Gregus’ corner was glanced across the face of goal by substitute Abu Danladi, allowing Alonso to stab home from close range to restore parity.

Agonizing misfortune continued to bedevil the visitors, as Ilie’s header off a Busio corner caromed off the crossbar just before Romain Metanire intervened heroically to prevent Gerso’s cutback pass from finding an open Busio near the penalty spot.

The final sting in the tale delivered all three points to Minnesota, as Dotson sliced into the box and uncorked a left-footed shot that deflected off Barath and past Melia in the 90th minute to send Allianz Field into euphoric celebration.

– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting KC travels to Minnesota tonight

The next-to-the-last match week of the 2019 MLS regular season will start tonight when Sporting Kansas City (10-14-7, 37 points) visits the new Allianz Field to battle regional rivals Minnesota United FC (14-10-7, 49 points) at 7 p.m.

The Western Conference clash will pit a Sporting outfit whose playoff hopes hang by a thread against a much-improved Minnesota side on the brink of clinching its first postseason appearance.

FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO will provide three hours of live coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m., while local radio broadcasts will air live on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish). Fans can access the Sporting KC App for additional in-game updates. Viewers outside the FOX Sports Midwest area can stream the action on ESPN Plus.

Under the guidance of manager Peter Vermes, Sporting has reached the MLS Cup Playoffs every year since 2011.

In order to preserve their hopes of extending that club-record streak to a ninth season, Sporting must defeat Minnesota and see either Portland or the San Jose Earthquakes drop points in their home matches on Wednesday night. Should the Timbers and Quakes both prevail, Sporting will be eliminated from playoff contention regardless of their result versus Minnesota.

Gerso Fernandes fired Sporting into a third-minute lead in a gut-wrenching 3-2 home loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

The hosts doubled their advantage with an own goal shortly thereafter, but Sporting captain Matt Besler was sent off midway through the first half to give the Rapids a numerical advantage.

Colorado cashed in with goals from Kei Kamara, Diego Rubio and Tommy Smith to deliver Vermes’ side its sixth home defeat of 2019.

Minnesota faces an even quicker turnaround, having scrapped to a scoreless draw at Portland on Sunday afternoon.

Goalkeeper Vito Mannone notched his 11th clean sheet, third-most in MLS, as the Loons took hold of third place in the Western Conference on 49 points.

A victory against Sporting would vault head coach Adrian Heath’s men into the playoffs for the first time.

Behind the influential contributions of versatile attacker Darwin Quintero (10 goals, five assists), wide midfielder Ethan Finlay (seven goals, three assists), the combative Jan Gregus (nine assists) and a strengthened backline, Minnesota has enjoyed its best season since joining MLS in 2017.

The Loons finished well below the playoff line in each of their first two campaigns but have parlayed their new home stadium into a palpable advantage: Minnesota is 12-1-5 at Allianz Field in all competitions, outscoring opponents 38-14.

Despite sitting in 11th place in the West, Sporting hasn’t been void of their own standout performers. Chilean international Felipe Gutierrez has tallied a team-best 12 goals to become the fourth midfielder in club history to record double-digit goals in a single season.

He has also made league history as the first MLS player during the Opta era (2010-present) to net 10 goals and win 50 tackles in a season.

Further up the field, forward Johnny Russell has notched nine goals and seven assists during a solid sophomore campaign in MLS. The Scottish international is one goal shy of becoming the fourth player in Sporting history to hit 10 goals in back-to-back regular seasons.

Between the posts, 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia has saved all three penalty kicks he has faced in 2019.

Sporting is 7-2-2 against Minnesota in all competitions since 2014, including a 5-2-2 mark since 2017 when the Loons entered MLS via expansion. However, the Loons are unbeaten at home versus Sporting (2-0-2) over the last three seasons, including a 4-1 victory in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round on June 12 that saw Quintero bag a brace to go with strikes from Finlay and Angelo Rodriguez.

The clubs most recently met on Aug. 22 at Children’s Mercy Park, a tightly contested encounter that remained goalless until the 88th minute when Sporting striker Erik Hurtado bagged a dramatic game-winner on a clever Russell assist.

– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting takes 3-2 loss to Colorado

Reduced to 10 men for the final 70 minutes on Saturday night, Sporting Kansas City (10-14-7, 37 points) suffered a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rapids (11-15-6, 39 points) in a drama-filled battle at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Gerso Fernandes fired the hosts into a third-minute lead and a Tommy Smith own goal made it 2-0 just 11 minutes later, but Colorado gained a man advantage when Sporting captain Matt Besler was sent off for his second bookable offense in the 20th minute.

The Rapids would eventually cash in, drawing level through former Sporting attackers Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio, before Smith atoned for his early blunder by nodding home the match-winner on 85 minutes.

Seeking a positive response to last week’s road loss against the LA Galaxy, manager Peter Vermes made two changes to Sporting’s lineup on Saturday.

Hungarian international duo Botond Barath and Krisztian Nemeth both earned their first starts since July, replacing center back Graham Smith and striker Erik Hurtado. Joining Barath in central defense was Besler, who became the first Sporting player to log 300 career MLS appearances including playoffs.

Sporting wasted no time landing the first punch, seizing the initiative when Felipe Gutierrez sprayed a lovely ball down the right channel for Graham Zusi to chase.

The right back swung in a low, driven cross that Keegan Rosenberry nearly cleared successfully, but Gerso stuck out his leg to redirect the ball past Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin for his sixth goal of the year in all competitions.

The Rapids were pegged back and took another blow in the 14th minute, succumbing to pressure off a Sporting set piece.

Luis Martins’ searching delivery into the penalty area was headed back across the face of goal by Ilie Sanchez, intended for the lurking Nemeth at the far post. In a bid to prevent the ball from reaching his marker, Smith inadvertently toe-poked the ball into his own net to double Sporting’s cushion.

The game’s complexion changed drastically when Besler was given his marching orders by referee Nima Saghafi for his second yellow card of the evening.

On their heels throughout the early stages, the Rapids gradually gained a foothold and grabbed a goal back three minutes shy of halftime. Jack Price’s corner kick took a hop before reaching Kamara, who expertly chested the ball before sending a well-struck bicycle kick bicycle kick beyond goalkeeper Tim Melia to record his 12th goal of the MLS campaign.

A delicately poised second half unfolded, with the Rapids enjoying the lion’s share of possession while Sporting remained dangerous on the counter attack.

Colorado found its equalizer in the 76th minute on a breathless sequence ignited by Sam Nicholson’s hopeful cross into a crowded box. The ball fell to the feet of Smith, and although Ilie was there to block the initial attempt, Rubio was on hand to slam a venomous blast into the roof of the net to level terms.

Colorado completed its comeback nine minutes later when Smith latched onto Price’s corner kick and steered a powerful header inside the near post for his third goal of 2019, condemning Vermes’ men to a heartbreaking defeat.

Seven points shy of playoff positioning with three regular season matches still to play, Sporting will look to bounce back Wednesday when they travel to face regional rival Minnesota United FC (14-10-6, 48 points) at the new Allianz Field.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus and FOX Sports GO.

  • Story from Sporting KC