Sporting KC drops home opener 2-0

Forward Johnny Russell headed a cross into the box. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City looked like a team still under construction in a season-opening 2-0 loss against New York City FC on Sunday evening.

The retooled offense showed flashes of its potential, but struggled to make the right connections for scoring, especially in the first half.

New Sporting KC forward Johnny Russell, playing from the left wing most of the game, was “incredibly dangerous” in the words of head coach Peter Vermes. He played in crosses from the wing as well as dribbling through defenders in the penalty area.

Newly signed Sporting midfielder Felipe Gutierrez won eight tackles and placed two shots on goal.

NYCFC got a goal in the 32nd minute by forward Maxi Morales, who got a cross from the left wing from David Villa.

New York got its second goal after halftime in the 53rd minute. Forward Jesus Medina, in his MLS debut, knocked in a cross he received near the penalty spot.

Sporting stepped up its offensive energy after Vermes brought in Daniel Salloi and Gerso Fernandes in the second half. The team maintained longer possessions and spent more time near the New York goal but still wasn’t able to get past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia attempted to shoulder blame for the score.

“We gave up four shots [on goal]. I just didn’t make any big saves. That’s on me. It’s not like we’re leaking shots and they’re getting opportunities all over the field,” Melia said.

Sporting KC will play on the road at the Chicago Fire on Saturday, March 10. The next home game is Saturday, March 17, against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Forward Yohan Croizet launched a shot that went just wide to the left. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Sporting forward Diego Rubio tried to recapture the ball from defender Maxime Chanot. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Felipe Gutierrez, right, tried to catch up with the ball near the New York goal. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Defender Cristian Lobato made an outstanding play racing back to break up a two-on-one breakaway near the end of the first half. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Roger Espinoza took a shot in the second half. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Gerso Fernandes was taken down just outside the penalty box by New York defender Maxime Chanot. Chanot received a red card. Sporting was awarded a free kick but was not able to score. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Defender Graham Zusi launched a corner kick in the opening minutes of the game. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia, right, greeted New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson before the game. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

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