by Brian Turrel
Felipe Gutierrez wasted no time extending his scoring streak, knocking in the game-winning goal just three minutes into Sporting Kansas City’s 1-0 victory over D.C. United on Saturday evening at Children’s Mercy Park.
Gutierrez intercepted a clearance by United along the left sideline and dribbled straight toward the goal, shooting the ball between the legs of United defender Frederic Brillant, and getting a fortunate bounce off Brillant’s boot.
The midfielder has scored in each of Sporting’s first five games and leads the league, but he left the game in the 53rd minute with a possible injury.
Sporting’s defense made the early goal hold up, eliminating the mistakes that made them porous in the first four games. Goalkeeper Tim Melia posted a shutout for the first time this season, stopping three shots on target from United.
Manager Peter Vermes complimented the defense’s decision-making after the game, noting that the unit cleared the ball from the goal area much more effectively.
The high press style of both teams created plenty of counter-attack opportunities. Defender Matt Besler commented that the movement of KC’s offensive players let him serve the ball forward to create offensive chances.
Sporting almost added on late in the game, with a near miss on a header from Ike Opara, and a shot just wide from Gerso Fernandes, who came on as a substitute in the 78th minute.
The victory allowed Sporting KC to keep pace with the Vancouver Whitecaps in a tie for first place in the MLS Western Conference. Sporting will head to Los Angeles to play the LA Galaxy on April 8. Their next home match is against the Seattle Sounders on April 15.