Sporting Kansas City suffered a late 1-0 defeat to New York City FC on Wednesday at rain-soaked Yankee Stadium.
Jack Harrison scored the decisive goal in the 84th minute, extending NYCFC’s home unbeaten run to 10 matches at the expense of a Sporting KC side that was playing its first match in 18 days.
The result gave the Blues (15-7-5, 50 points) their first win in three tries against manager Peter Vermes’ men, who remain third in the Western Conference standings (10-6-10, 40 points) heading into Sunday’s trip to Columbus Crew SC.
The visitors were awarded their first opportunity within three minutes, as Benny Feilhaber was chopped to the turf by Maxi Moralez just beyond the left edge of the penalty box. Feilhaber’s ensuing free kick was well delivered but scrambled clear amidst traffic.
The Blues would threaten twice in quick succession at the opposite end.
Tommy McNamara ran onto a layoff from Harrison and flashed a low shot narrowly beyond goalkeeper Tim Melia’s right-hand post in the ninth minute.
Shortly thereafter, Andrea Pirlo’s corner kick to the far post was cushioned back across the face of goal by Harrison. Center back Frederic Brillant was on hand to snap a close-range header toward goal, but Roger Espinoza rose to make the pivotal block and extinguish the danger.
Vermes’ side settled into possession near the half-hour mark as Daniel Salloi twice misfired from distance following passes from Espinoza and Feilhaber, shortly before Feilhaber’s turf-trimming drive was blocked in a crowded penalty area.
Saad Abdul-Salaam had a clear look at goal in the 37th minute when the ball pinged high into the air on the heels of a Feilhaber corner kick.
The right back leapt above the rest but could only steer his header over the crossbar. A minute later, Cristian Lobato’s venomous long-range strike sizzled marginally wide of the target.
NYCFC surged forward on the cusp of intermission as Harrison isolated himself on the right wing, cut centrally and struck low, but Ike Opara was well positioned to block the attempt. Seconds later, a 20-yard rocket from Moralez was palmed aside by Melia.
Sporting Kansas City stormed out of the second-half gates, taking less than 30 seconds to force NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson into his first save.
Espinoza robbed the ball off Pirlo at midfield, bombed into the attacking third and unleashed a swerving strike from 25 yards. Johnson dove to make the stop and Feilhaber could only poke a difficult rebound effort high of the gaping net.
The hosts would conjure a quick reply of their own in the 54th minute when Sean Okoli’s first-time blast off a cross from R.J. Allen rattled the right post, allowing Sporting KC to breathe a sigh of relief.
Salloi then tried his luck with a deep free kick on the hour mark that curled around NYCFC’s four-man wall but skimmed over the woodwork.
Sporting Kansas City dodged a major bullet in the 65th minute when Moralez’ low shot through traffic was bound for the far left corner of the net, but substitute Khiry Shelton inadvertently blocked his own teammate’s shot off the goal line – much to the bewilderment of the Yankee Stadium crowd.
Melia then produced his best save of the night, sprawling to smother Harrison’s vicious volley with more than 20 minutes remaining.
Increased pressure from NYCFC finally paid off in the 84th minute.
Melia did wonderfully to save McNamara’s bending shot from the left side of the box, but the ball was kept alive on the right side and served back into the area by Allen.
Harrison took a touch with his chest and rifled a side volley just inside the far right corner of the net to break Sporting KC’s resolve.
A quick turnaround awaits for Sporting KC, as the club will travel from New York to Columbus for a Sunday showdown with Crew SC (13-12-3, 42 points) at noon on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
– Story from Sporting KC