Sporting Kansas City

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MLS Snapshot: Wasteful again, SKC drop more points at home

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): It’s been a rough few weeks for Sporting Kansas City since lifting the U.S. Open Cup here at Children’s Mercy Park on Sept. 20. Peter Vermes’ side has won just one of five league games following Sunday’s scoreless draw against their old late-season foes, the Houston Dynamo. In frustratingly familiar fashion, Sunday’s stalemate saw Sporting KC enjoy 69 percent of the game’s possession, attempt 24 shots on the night, put just six on target, and fail to find the back of the net. Graham Zusi (twice) and Diego Rubio went closest for the two sides, but came up with nothing more than woodwork. With the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders each winning big on Sunday, Sporting slip to fourth in the Western Conference. The point does, however, clinch a seventh straight playoff appearance for Sporting, and signal a return to the postseason for Houston.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 33 — all about playoff places, positioning ]

Three moments that mattered

11′ — Zusi blasts off from distance, and goes just wide — Having made the full-time switch to right back this season, Zusi is in danger of his first goal-less season since 2009, his rookie year. He nearly get off the mark early in the first half.

34′ — Zusi smashes the crossbar with a free kick — The weight of goal-lessness upon him, Zusi goes even closer.

76′ — Rubio hits the crossbar from distance — Rubio went closest in the second half, as his shot caromed off the crossbar and should have resulted in a corner kick for Sporting.

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Man of the match: Tyler Deric

Goalscorers: None

MLS Snapshot: SKC wasteful in front of goal, draw MNUFC

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): Saturday signaled little more than a series of missed chances for the Western Conference’s top teams, as Sporting Kansas City followed up the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 3-0 hammering at the hands of the New York Red Bulls with a disappointing road result of their own: a 1-1 draw with 10-man Minnesota United, a game which the visitors were far and away the better side over the first 60 minutes, and comfortable equals over the following 25 minutes, before creating a flurry of clear-cut chances over the final 10 minutes. Diego Rubio scored his sixth goal of the season to put Sporting KC ahead just before halftime, only to see Brent Kallman equalize six minutes from the end. A late red card resulted in chance after chance after chance for Sporting, all of which went oh so close to snatching three points and moving them to within a single point of Vancouver with a game in hand. Alas, they’ll chase a win in Houston on Wednesday in an attempt to pull even atop the West.

[ MORE: USMNT routs Panama to boost WC dreams in a big way ]

Three Four moments that mattered

45+2′ — Rubio finishes a ball from Blessing or 1-0 — The deft touch from Latif Blessing sets up Rubio, who endured a torrid night last Saturday. Nothing restarts the memory like scoring a goal.

59′ — Melia leaves the game with an injury — There’s no two ways about it: Tim Melia has been the best goalkeeper in MLS this season. No one else is worthy of consideration for such a title. If he’s to miss more than a week or two with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, that’s bad for Sporting.

84′ — Kallman heads home a late equalizer — Abu Danladi floated the ball over every blue shirt but one, Ike Opara, who was expected to mark three Loons on the play. He’s good, but that’s a big ask when the service is this good.

93′ — Shuttleworth denies Espinoza from point-blank range — Now with a man advantage, the final eight minutes of this game were nothing but chance after chance for Sporting. This was the pick of the litter, a header from three yards out that Bobby Shuttleworth somehow managed to save.

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Man of the match: Bobby Shuttleworth

Goalscorers: Rubio (45+2′), Kallman (84′)

MLS Snapshot: VAN end SKC’s home streak at 24, go 4 clear

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less more): The Vancouver Whitecaps picked up one of the biggest wins of the season on Saturday — a result which pushes them four points clear of the rest of the Western Conference (for the time being) — a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City. The result went a long way toward locking up home-field advantage during the West playoffs. What’s more impressive? They might have done so by ending the longest active home unbeaten streak in the league (third-longest in league history) to boot. What’s even more impressive than that? The trip to Children’s Mercy Park, matching up the West’s third- and first-place sides, came less than 72 hours after Carl Robinson’s side suffered defeat in Seattle. Sporting KC were denied a second penalty after a seemingly clear-cut foul following a penalty-area scramble post-corner kick. The game would finish with both sides down to 10 men after Graham Zusi and Cristian Bolaños were sent off during second-half stoppage time.

[ MORE: SKC, VAN face off for West supremacy; HOU still chasing playoffs ]

Three moments that mattered

10′ — Rubio smashes his penalty off the post — A couple inches to the right, and there’s a good chance Stefan Marinovic makes the save. This was only the beginning of Rubio’s frustrating evening.

14′ — Marinovic makes a tough save to deny Rubio — Zusi picked out Rubio eight yards from goal with a delightful cross, but the Chilean’s header wasn’t either side of Marinovic who stood his ground and made the save. Marinovic would make seven saves on the night.

53′ — Hurtado flicks one past Melia completely against the run of play — When using the phrase “completely against the run of play” in this instance, it means Vancouver hadn’t had a shot on goal all night, and had ventured into Sporting’s penalty area on only a few occasions.

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Man of the match: Stefan Marinovic

Goalscorers: Hurtado (53′)

MLS Snapshot: SKC top LA 2-1, make it 3 home wins in a week

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): Sporting Kansas City avoided the dreaded U.S. Open Cup hangover on Sunday, four short days after lifting the Cup here at Children’s Mercy Park, by beating the LA Galaxy, 2-1, to remain just a point back of the first-place Vancouver Whitecaps in the race for home-field advantage in the Western Conference. Daniel Salloi, scorer of the USOC-winning goal on Wednesday, and Diego Rubio put the exclamation point on a dominant first-performance by putting Sporting KC 2-0 ahead after 35 minutes. LA got a goal back through Romain Alessandrini’s curling free kick just before the hour mark, but that’s as close as Sigi Schmid’s side would get on the afternoon. The victory sets up a top-of-the-table clash between Sporting and Vancouver next Saturday. Also, Gyasi Zardes played 90 minutes at right back. It went about how you’d expect it to go.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three Four moments that mattered

1′ — Dos Santos should have seen red after 26 seconds — If video review wasn’t implemented to review plays like this, we should just get rid of video review altogether.

18′ — Salloi gets to Rubio’s cross, toe-pokes it home — Maybe Peter Vermes knew what he was doing when he traded Dom Dwyer, thus opening a boatload of minutes for Salloi and Rubio.

35′ — Rubio taps it in after Sinovic puts it on a platter — Sporting made this one look really, really easy.

58′ — Alessandrini curls a beauty past Melia — Not a whole lot Tim Melia could do about that one.

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Man of the match: Diego Rubio

Goalscorers: Salloi (18′), Rubio (35′), Alessandrini (58′)

MLS Snapshot: Nemeth ruins his return to SKC; NE thrashed again

Photo credit: Sporting Kansas City / @SportingKC
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The game in 100 words (or less): Unlike that of Kekuta Manneh, Krisztian Nemeth’s return to his former home was far from ceremonious, as the New England Revolution attacker (and former Sporting Kansas City man) was sent off after just 11 minutes, with his new outfit 1-0 ahead on a goal scored by Teal Bunbury, another former Sporting KC striker. The Hungarian’s early dismissal paved the way for a ferocious comeback which puts Sporting within a point of the Western Conference’s top spot, and generates a bit of momentum ahead of Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup final agains the New York Red Bulls, right back here at Children’s Mercy Park. Gerso Fernandes pulled SKC level in the 16th minute, just five minutes after Nemeth saw red, and the Bissau-Guinean set up Diego Rubio for what turned out to be the game-winning goal just before halftime. The Chilean striker, and Dom Dwyer’s replacement following his trade in July, grabbed a second goal 12 minutes into the second half, as Peter Vermes’ side pick just its fifth win in 14 games, though it should be noted they’ve lost just twice during that period.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — TFC’s Shield chase continues in LA ]

Three Four moments that mattered

4′ — Bunbury’s shot gets deflected, loops over Melia — It was Score Against Your Old Club Night in MLS.

11′ — Nemeth sees red for an elbow — It was the laziest attempt to garner an “I really just don’t want to be here” red card you’ll see for quite some time.

16′ — Fernandes equalizes at the near post — If New England could have held on until halftime before giving up the equalizer, they might have had a shot at getting something out of this game.

45′ — Rubio slides in at the back post for 2-1 — Graham Zusi, who’s #actually a fine right back in the right system, carries the ball roughly 50 yards here, before sliding it wide to Fernandes, who plays it across goal for Rubio to poke it home.

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Man of the match: Gerso Fernandes

Goalscorers: Bunbury (4′), Fernandes (16′), Rubio (45′, 57′)