Sporting KC takes 3-2 loss in Western Conference Championship match

Forward Diego Rubio crossed the ball to Daniel Salloi for a goal in the 20th minute of Thursday night’s Western Conference final in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Two second-half defensive lapses by Sporting KC allowed the Portland Timbers to overcome an early Sporting Kansas City goal and win the Western Conference finals Thursday evening at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. The final score was 3-2 in Portland’s favor.

Forward Daniel Salloi opened the scoring in the 20th minute. Diego Rubio earned the assist, crossing the ball from the right side to the far post where Salloi collected it. Salloi’s goal capped a flurry of early activity that saw Kansas City put four shots on goal in the first 15 minutes.

Salloi put the ball in the net again in the 24th minute, but it was disallowed for obstruction of the goalkeeper. Another Salloi shot in first-half stoppage time went just over the crossbar.

Portland erased Sporting Kansas City’s advantage in the 52nd minute. Forward Sebastian Blanco launched a shot from 30 yards that found the upper corner of the goal. Portland scored again in the 61st minute on a rebound header by Diego Valeri.

The 2-1 Portland lead meant Sporting KC needed twp goals to advance in the playoff. Sporting KC picked up one of those goals in the 81st minute when Graham Zusi crossed the ball to Gerso Fernandes near the penalty spot, but Sporting KC was not able to score again. Portland’s third goal came in stoppage time as Sporting Kansas City took increasingly risky offensive positions in an attempt to win the game, which allowed midfielder Diego Valeri to score on a counterattack.

Portland will advance to the MLS Cup final against Atlanta United FC. The match will be played in Atlanta on Dec. 8.

Sporting Kansas City will start its 2019 season in February. In addition to the usual MLS and U.S. Open Cup competitions, Sporting KC will participate in the CONCACAF Champions’ League, a competition among top club teams from across North America. Sporting KC qualified for the Champions’ League based on its 2017 Open Cup championship.

Portland defender Bill Tuiloma foiled an attacking run by Diego Rubio. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Gerso Fernandes scored in the 81st minute to make the score 2-2. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Sporting KC fans celebrated Fernandes’s game-tying goal in the second half. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Gerso Fernandes took a shot after coming in as a substitute for Salloi. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Fernandes was taken down on a foul just outside the penalty area. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella knocked away a Sporting Kansas City corner kick. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Attinella grabbed a save in the second half. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Diego Rubio collided with Portland goalkeeper in the second half. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Graham Zusi made an attacking run from the right side. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

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)

Sporting KC unveils jersey for 2015 season

Sporting KC unveiled a jersey on Wednesday for the 2015 season. (Sporting KC photo)
Sporting KC unveiled a jersey on Wednesday for the 2015 season. (Sporting KC photo)

A new Sporting Kansas City jersey was unveiled Wednesday for the 2015 season.

The team plans to wear the jersey at 6 p.m. Sunday for the season opener against the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. For ticket information, visit www.Ticketmaster.com.

The jersey has checks that are called a “window pane pattern.” There will be a matching jacket for players to wear on the field before matches.