Sporting KC tops D.C. United 2-1 in First Kick preview

Goals from Zusi & Saad see Sporting prevail in pre-season

Kei Kamara vs. D.C. United DL

Photo Credit: 
Kurt Austin

Grande Sports World | Casa Grande, Ariz.
Weather: Sunny, 70 degrees

Score                           1     2     F
Sporting Kansas City      1     1     2
D.C. United                    0     1     1

Scoring Summary:
KC – Graham Zusi (free kick) 34
KC – Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson) 62
DC – Jose Burciaga, Jr. (Danny Cruz) 78

Disciplinary Summary:
KC – Roger Espinoza (reckless tackle) 19
DC – Dejan Jakovic (reckless foul) 32
DC – Nick DeLeon (reckless foul) 57

Stats:                          KC      DC
Shots                           7          6
Shots On Goal              3          3
Fouls                           14        8
Corner Kicks                2          3
Offsides                       0          7

Sporting Kansas City – Jimmy Nielsen (Eric Kronberg 60); Chance Myers (Michael Harrington 60), Aurelien Collin (Cyprian Hedrick 60), Matt Besler (Lawrence Olum 60), Seth Sinovic (Korede Aiyegbusi 60); Julio Cesar (Paulo Nagamura 46), Roger Espinoza (Luke Sassano 58), Graham Zusi (Konrad Warzycha 60); Kei Kamara (Jacob Peterson 60), C.J. Sapong (Soony Saad 60), Bobby Convey (Dom Dwyer 60)

D.C. United –  Bill Hamid (Joe Willis 46), Robbie Russell (Chris Korb 60), Dejan Jakovic (Lance Rozeboom 60), Emiliano Dudar (Conor Shanosky 60), Daniel Woolard (Jose Burciaga, Jr. 60), Marcelo Saragosa (Seth C’deBaca 60), Perry Kitchen (Matt Armstrong 60), Andy Najar (Stephen King 60), Nick DeLeon (Danny Cruz 60), Maicon Santos (Stefan Jerome 60, Phillipe Garre 85), Ryan Richter (Alfredo Martins 70)

Sporting Kansas City posted a 2-1 victory over D.C. United on Saturday at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Ariz. Midfielder Graham Zusi opened the scoring in the 34th minute on a curling free kick, while forward Soony Saad secured the game-winning goal in the 62nd minute, less than two minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.

The club improves to 2-0-0 on the pre-season with the victory over D.C. United, whom Sporting KC will face in the club’s season opener on March 10 at RFK Stadium.

While Sporting Kansas City’s starting lineup on Saturday featured only one change from the club’s Eastern Conference Championship match in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, it was D.C. United that started strongest on Saturday. Midfielder Nick DeLeon nearly struck in the game’s opening minute, but sent his header over the crossbar on a cross from Robbie Russell.

The Sporting KC defense did well from that point forward, holding their opponent without a shot on goal until the 38th minute, when Jimmy Nielsen stood his ground to turn away Maicon Santos’ close-range attempt.

In the interim, Zusi sparked Sporting’s offense from his attacking midfield position. First, in the 16th minute, he unleashed a powerful shot from the left side that was deflected over the bar for a corner. Then in the 36th minute, D.C. gave up a free kick outside the penalty area and Zusi sent his shot around the wall and into the net off goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s outstretched hand.

The goal marked Sporting’s second on a set piece this pre-season, following Konrad Warzycha’s free kick in the team’s 2-1 win over San Jose last Saturday.

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes sent a new squad into the match in the 60th minute and the lineup change paid dividends within minutes. SuperDraft selection Dom Dwyer disrupted D.C. United’s play in the midfield, allowing recently acquired forward Jacob Peterson to pounce on the loose ball an instant prior to D.C. United back-up goalkeeper Joe Willis’ arrival. The scramble saw the ball ricochet to Saad for an opportunistic finish into the unattended net.

Peterson nearly got on the scoresheet again minutes later as Warzycha worked his way to the endline and laid a pass back to his teammate, but Willis quickly came off his line to block the shot from 10 yards out.

D.C. United cut Sporting’s lead in half in the 78th minute on a half-volley from guest player Jose Burciaga, Jr., a former left back for Kansas City (2001-2007) and current guest player for D.C. United this pre-season. Midfielder Danny Cruz’s cross from the endline deflected to Burciaga, Jr. at the backpost and his sliding shot was struck with pace beneath the crossbar.

Sporting’s defense withstood D.C. United’s late surge for an equalizer, needing a save from second half goalkeeper Eric Kronberg on a shot from Cruz in the 88th minute to preserve the advantage.

Sporting Kansas City will conclude their stay in Arizona with a match against local side FC Tucson at 11:00 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at the Kino Sports Complex.