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.