With 2-0 loss to Montreal, Sporting KC’s unbeaten run ends

Sporting Kansas City’s nine-match unbeaten run was halted Saturday in a 2-0 defeat to the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo.

Ignacio Piatti opened the scoring in the 54th minute before Alejandro Silva buried a 70th-minute penalty kick as Montreal snapped a six-game winless drought against Sporting KC that dated back to 2014.

Despite the setback, Sporting KC (9-3-5, 32 points) remains tied for first place in the Western Conference, level on points with FC Dallas at the halfway mark of the 2018 MLS campaign.

On the opposite sideline, Montreal (7-11-0, 21 points) provisionally climbs to seventh place in the East behind a 342-minute shutout streak that has produced four shutout wins in the club’s last five games.

The lone change to Sporting KC’s lineup from a wild 3-2 win over the Houston Dynamo last weekend saw rookie center back Graham Smith make way for captain Matt Besler, who returned to action after missing two straight matches with a hamstring injury. In midfield, Spanish veteran Ilie Sanchez – who was named a 2018 MLS All-Star on Friday – logged his 50th career regular-season start and appearance for the club.

Piatti, Montreal’s talismanic playmaker, had scored or assisted on seven of Montreal’s previous eight goals entering Saturday and was first to threaten in the ninth minute, unleashing an audacious strike from distance that required goalkeeper Tim Melia to sprawl low and palm away.

Sporting KC’s first shot attempt came 20 minutes later off the head of Ike Opara, who nodded wide off an in-swinging corner kick from Graham Zusi.

Frenchman Yohan Croizet, who bagged a stunning volley to lift Sporting KC past FC Dallas in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup a fortnight ago, tested his luck in the 38th minute with a long-range piledriver on his weaker right foot that fizzed marginally high. The venomous blast would be the final play of note during a pedestrian first half.

Evan Bush was forced into his first save three minutes after the restart when Croizet found a pocket of space at the top of the box and sent a low, driven effort straight at the Montreal goalkeeper.

Seconds later at the opposite end, Melia touched Rudy Camacho’s bouncing side volley over the crossbar as the match showed signs of springing to life.

Piatti’s quality shined through in the 54th minute when Montreal landed the first blow. A wave of pressure from the hosts resulted in the ball falling kindly into the path of the Argentine, and Melia could only get a hand to his sweetly struck curler from outside the box.

Piatti now has nine goals in 2018, five more than any other Impact player, and has scored in three of his last four appearances against Sporting KC.

The 1-0 deficit prompted a response from the visitors, who went close through Zusi’s deflected shot shortly after forward Khiry Shelton came off the bench to offer more bite in attack.

Montreal stymied any hopes of another Sporting KC comeback, however, when Daniel Lovitz drew a foul inside the penalty area on 69 minutes. Silva rolled home the ensuing spot kick for his first career MLS goal, having spent the first seven years of his professional career in South America.

A frustrated Sporting KC outfit threw numbers forward in the late stages and Roger Espinoza won his side a free with 77 minutes on the clock.

Zusi bent the resulting free kick over Montreal’s four-man wall, but an outstretched Bush got his fingertips to the stinging strike as the ball smacked the topside of the woodwork and landed out of play.

A busy week awaits Manager Peter Vermes’ men as the calendar turns to July. Wednesday’s road test at rivals Real Salt Lake followed by a highly anticipated battle with reigning MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield champion Toronto FC on Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Kickoff on Wednesday is set for 9 p.m., with three hours of live coverage at Rio Tinto Stadium beginning at 8:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus. Saturday’s home game will kick off at 7:30 p.m., and a limited number of tickets remain available via SeatGeek.com .

– Story from Sporting KC