After a tough loss last week against Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City went into Saturday night needing a win to regain the top spot in the Western Conference. They would do just that against the New York Red Bulls earning a 2-0 victory in their second road game of the year.
This was an important win considering that Sporting’s record against the Red Bulls with Peter Vermes coming into this game was subpar, going 4-6-4 in 14 previous games.
Sporting take an early lead
Kansas City would start the game off on the front foot and had many chances early on. Connor Hallisey would miss a great chance off a cross, putting the ball across the face of goal. They would finally finish an opportunity in the 17th minute after a turnover from the Red Bulls. Graham Zusi cut the ball across the top of the box to Benny Feilhaber who calmly put the ball in the back of the net for an early lead.
Along with a strong start for KC in the first half offensively, Tim Melia would stop one shot after the other from the Red Bulls and would continue to do so throughout the game. Bradley Wright-Phillips missed a great chance before the end of the half and Sean Davis hit the post seconds before the whistle.
Injury bug hits Kansas City
Kevin Ellis and Chance Myers both went down in the game with injuries. Ellis was injured in the first half and after a collision with Wright-Phillips. It was an apparent knock to the knee that sent Ellis out of the game, he was filling in this game for captain Matt Besler who is out with a concussion following a stent with the US national team.
Ike Opara came into the game for Ellis, it was his first appearance for the first team since April 2015 after being out with a ruptured achilles. Myers, unfortunately, pulled up in the second half with hamstring discomfort and would be replaced by Saad Abdul-Salaam.
KC double their advantage
Connor Hallisey would miss another good chance five minutes into the second half after a great ball from Zusi. He would be bailed out again when the Red Bulls switched off on a throw in for Sporting KC. Abdul-Salaam threw the ball in long and into the box, Dom Dwyer let it run, muscled off his defender, turned and fired in the second goal of the night for Sporting Kansas City.
There would be no lack of excitement soon after the goal as a penalty would be called for New York after Opara would have a cross go off his upper arm and the referee pointed to the spot. Sporting keeper Melia read Wright-Phillips the whole way and saved the penalty spectacularly to add to his list of great saves on the night.
Sporting Kansas City will hope to carry momentum from New Jersey back home on Wednesday night for their 20th anniversary game against the Colorado Rapids. They will wear throwback uniforms from their ‘Wizards’ days against the club from Commerce City. New York will travel out west to California on Wednesday to face the San Jose Earthquakes before they take on the Rapids next Saturday.