Sporting KC earns comeback win against San Jose

Johnny Russell curled his free kick around the wall of San Jose defenders in the second half of Sporting KC’s 2-1 win Saturday over the San Jose Earthquakes. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City’s strong second-half play earned them a 2-1 come-from-behind win against the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday evening at Children’s Mercy Park.

Coming out of the halftime break with a one goal deficit and an urgency not to lose the game, Kansas City attacked early, picking up the equalizer in the 50th minute.

Johnny Russell floated a cross from the right-hand side of the 18-yard line which Jimmy Medranda headed into the path of Benny Feilhaber. Feilhaber placed the ball into the left side of the net with a screaming half-volley.

In the 76th minute, defender Graham Smith made the game-winner, his first professional goal.

Johnny Russell took a free kick from just outside the corner of the penalty area. The kick looked like it might curl into the upper corner of the goal, but instead ricocheted off the frame. Smith was at the far post and easily knocked in the rebound.

In comments after the game, head coach Peter Vermes credited his team’s effort in the victory.

“San Jose’s a good team,” the coach said. “They work really hard. They spend a lot of energy. They run. They play man-to-man. They’re a team that puts the work in. Tonight, we outworked them.”

Vermes also credited his team’s game plan in dealing with San Jose’s unique man-to-man marking style.

“We had the right game plan,” the coach said. “The guys played flawlessly to the game plan.”

Although he declined to spill the specifics of his strategy, he added, “What we did, I think, changed the way they had to play us, and that was a big difference.”

Even with three points in the standings for the victory, Kansas City still faces an uphill climb to reach the playoffs. They remain 6 points behind the final playoff position, with 8 games remaining.

Sporting has a quick turnaround, playing against Minnesota United FC on Thursday. The nationally televised game will start at 8:30 p.m. at Children’s Mercy Park.

Forward Erik Hurtado (and others) congratulated Benny Feilhaber after his goal. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


A young fan got her chance at the drums in the post-game celebration. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


San Jose goalkeeper Daniel Vega came off his line to intercept a shot attempt by Roger Espinoza. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Defender Matt Besler went high to win a header off a corner kick. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Graham Smith and Gianluca Busio reacted to Smith’s first professional goal. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Defender Graham Zusi tried to knock a shot past San Jose defender Guram Kashia. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Midfielder Felipe Gutierrez blocked a shot on goal early in the first half. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Johnny Russell launched a shot on goal in the second half. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Sporting KC forward Jimmy Medranda and San Jose defender Tommy Thompson contended for a ball in the air. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

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