Defender Graham Zusi centered the ball from the right side of the Atlanta goal. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)
by Brian Turrel
Sporting Kansas City’s injury-stricken line-up continued to struggle, dropping Friday night’s home game against Atlanta United 3-0.
Unable to field a full roster for the game, head coach Peter Vermes went to his reserves in key positions in the back and midfield.
Sporting had a couple high-quality chances early. Graham Zusi’s shot curled just wide in the 2nd minute, and Krisztian Nemeth missed a header wide in the 12th minute off a corner kick.
Atlanta controlled the half after that point, directing a barrage of shots against Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia, and finally breaking through in the 39th minute on a rebound goal by Josef Martinez.
Atlanta padded its lead just after the halftime break, getting a goal from Ezequiel Barco in the 47th minute off a failed clearance.
The visitors were mostly content to slow the pace after their second goal, but seized a final opportunity in the 76th minute for another goal by Martinez for the final margin.
Sporting desperately missed Ilie Sanchez’s ability to maintain possession in the middle third of the field, and coach Peter Vermes brought him into the game in the 65th minute.
Sanchez has been nursing a calf injury, and Vermes admitted after the game, “I shouldn’t have even played him tonight. He didn’t train all week. He didn’t train one day. But, you know, we needed something else to give us a little push forward.”
Adding to the team’s offensive struggles, the timing between the team’s midfield and forwards was noticeably off, resulting in several forward passes rolling harmlessly out of bounds or getting picked off by defenders.
The loss ended Kansas City’s 10-game streak without a home loss. Sporting KC will play against D.C. United on the road on May 12, and then return home for a game against Vancouver on May 18.
“I got a ball. I got a jersey. I got everything!” exclaimed Victory Project participant Mackenna, as midfielder Kelyn Rowe presented her with an autographed, customized jersey. The Victory Project is a collaboration between Sporting Kansas City and Children’s Mercy Hospital that supports children with multiple cancer diagnoses. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel) Singer Laura Noble performed “The Star Spangled Banner” before the game. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel) Forward Krisztian Nemeth fired a shot at the Atlanta goal. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel) Defender Botond Barath headed a shot on goal in the second half. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel) Midfielder Kelyn Rowe lined up a shot from the edge of the penalty area. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel) Goalkeeper Tim Melia made a save in the first half. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel) Defender Seth Sinovic crossed the ball from the left side. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel) Graham Zusi gathered in a pass forward down the right side. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)