Recap: Sporting KC opens season with 3-1 win at Philadelphia Union

Zusi scores goal & adds two assists; Rosell & Bieler score 2nd half goals

PPL Park | Chester, Penn.
Attendance: 18,160
Weather: 42 degrees, mostly cloudy
Video: Match Highlights

Score 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (1-0-0) 1 2 3
Philadelphia Union (0-1-0) 1 0 1

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen (c); Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers (Mechack Jerome 92+); Oriol Rosell, Benny Feilhaber (Peterson Joseph 82); Paulo Nagamura; Bobby Convey (C.J. Sapong 63), Claudio Bieler, Graham Zusi

Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Ike Opara, Soony Saad, Josh Gardner

Philadelphia Union: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Raymon Gaddis; Michael Lahoud (Roger Torres 80), Brian Caroll (c), Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel (Conor Casey 84), Gabriel Farfan (Jack McInerney 70); Sebastien Le Toux

Subs not used: Chris Konopka, Danny Cruz, Bakary Soumare, Antoine Hoppenot

Stats

  Philadelphia Union Sporting KC
Shots 17 7
Shots (on goal) 5 4
Corner Kicks 6 2
Fouls 19 13
Offsides 1 4
Yellow Cards 0 1
Red Cards 0 0
Possession 46.8% 53.2%

Misconduct Summary:
KC - Aurelien Collin (caution; reckless tackle) 25
KC -- Bobby Convey (caution; tactical foul) 56
PHI -- Raymon Gaddis (caution; reckless foul) 89

Scoring Summary:
PHI - Sebastien Le Toux 1 (Keon Daniel) 17
KC - Graham Zusi 1 (unassisted) 41
KC - Oriol Rosell 1 (Graham Zusi 1) 66
KC -- Claudio Bieler 1 (Chance Myers 1, Graham Zusi 2) 83

Sporting Kansas City defeated the Philadelphia Union 3-1 in their 2013 season opener on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. Midfielder Graham Zusi played a part in all three goals, scoring in the 41st minute and adding assists on both second-half goals as Oriol Rosell scored the match-winner in the 66th minute and Claudio Bieler scored on his debut in the 83rd minute.

Down a goal with four minutes to go in the first half, Zusi put Sporting Kansas City back in the game when he blasted a close-range shot past former Maryland teammate Zac MacMath. Rosell followed suit 25 minutes later when he nodded in a Zusi free kick to put the visitors in the lead and Bielersecured Sporting KC's victory with a composed shot inside the final 10 minutes of the match.

The Union opened the match strong, with their first chance coming in the fourth minute when Gabriel Farfan, positioned at the left side of the box, settled a chipped pass from Sebastien Le Toux and took a strike that went straight to goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

The Union continued to dictate the pace of the match with Le Toux, in his first match back with Philadelphia since being traded from the Vancouver Whitecaps, proving to be a thorn in Sporting KC's side. Persistence paid off for the French striker in the 17th minute when he settled a long ball from Keon Daniel and took a swift right-footed shot that Nielsen reacted well to get his gloves on but couldn't keep the attempt out from close range.

The home side nearly notched a second goal in the 23rd minute when Michael Lahoud slipped behind Sporting Kansas City's backline and crossed the ball to a wide-open Le Toux, whose shot was just wide of the near post. Four minutes later, Nielsen made a stellar, diving save to stop Michael Farfan's on-target free kick.

Six minutes later, Sporting Kansas City had a chance of their own when Bobby Convey, in his first start for Kansas City since July, drove the ball deep into the left corner and slipped it to  Bieler. The Argentine fired a low shot that was blocked by MacMath as the offside flag went up.

Sporting Kansas City found their much-needed equalizer in the 41st minute when Bieler headed down Convey's long service into the penalty area. Benny Feilhaber's initial shot was blocked by Macmath but fell to Zusi, who drove the ball into the back of the net to level the match just minutes before halftime.

The visitorsbegan the second half invigorated, nearly scoring an early goal just two minutes in when Bieler received a cross from Convey at the top of the box and released a right-footed shot that glanced narrowly wide of the left post.

Sporting KC then took the lead in the 66th minute when Zusi delivered a near-perfect free kick to an unmarked Rosell, who re-directed the ball past MacMath with a glancing header.

Nielsen, the 2012 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, came through eleven minutes later, eleven minutes later with a big save for Sporting KC when second-half substitute Jack McInerney headed in a beautiful cross from Le Toux that Nielsen punched out for a corner.

Sporting KC secured the three points in the 83rd minute when Chance Myers played a ball back to Bieler in the penalty area. The Designated Player took a composed left-footed shot that beat MacMath and opened his MLS scoring account to deliver Sporting Kansas City's first MLS win at PPL Park.

Sporting Kansas City will next face Toronto FC at 12:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 9 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The match will be broadcast live on KCWE, with coverage beginning at 12 p.m. CT.

FAST FACTS

  • Sporting Kansas City is 12-4-2 all-time in season openers, the best record in MLS, and the team has suffered only one loss to start the season in the last 12 years. The team has won their season opener each of the past four seasons, despite playing on the road the last three years.
  • In 2012, Sporting Kansas City was one of only two teams to win on the road during the opening weekend of MLS action.
  • Sebastien Le Toux, Philadelphia's all-time leading scorer, struck for the first goal of the 2013 MLS season in the 17th minute on an assist from Keon Daniel.
  • Sporting Kansas City was 3-5-1 when conceding the first goal in 2012.
  • Graham Zusi, an MLS MVP finalist in 2012, scored Sporting Kansas City's first goal of the year in the 41st to draw the score level at 1-1 and added assists on each of the team's second-half strikes.
  • The goal was Zusi's 12th career regular season goal.
  • Prior to the scoring sequence, Sporting Kansas City had not registered a shot on goal in the opening 40 minutes.
  • Sporting Kansas City went on to score on their only two shots on goal in the second half.
  • Jimmy Nielsen, the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, played and started the 100th MLS match (including playoffs) of his Sporting KC career on Saturday.
  • Jimmy Nielsen set the club record as the oldest goalkeeper to make an appearance, start a match and play a complete game in team history at 35 years, 6 months and 25 days. The previous record of 35 years, 5 months and 29 days was held by Tony Meola and set on Aug. 18, 2004.
  • Nielsen has appeared in 62 straight MLS matches, including postseason, for Sporting Kansas City, dating back to June 12, 2011. The streak covers a span of 5,580 straight minutes of MLS action.
  • Jimmy Nielsen has the best career winning percentage for a KC goalkeeper in club history (.569).
  • Jimmy Nielsen's 1.02 career goals against average is the best for a goalkeeper in MLS history with a minimum of 4,000 minutes played. His 1.09 goals against average on the road is also the best for a goalkeeper in MLS history with a minimum of 2,000 away minutes played.
  • Oriol Rosell scored the game-winning goal in the 66th minute on a header off a free kick from Graham Zusi.
  • The goal was Rosell's second of his MLS career and came in his second regular season start. He's now made six regular season appearances.
  • His first goal came on Sept. 1, 2012 with a match-winner against Toronto FC.
  • Oriol Rosell became the youngest player in team history to start for the club in a season opener at 20 years, 7 months and 24 days on Saturday. In his last appearance -- the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals - he became the youngest KC player to start an MLS postseason match all-time.
  • Graham Zusi earned the first of two assists on the night on the goal. Zusi led MLS with 15 assists in 2012.
  • Zusi earned the secondary assist on Claudio Bieler's goal in the 83rd minute with a long cross to Chance Myers.
  • Zusi also had an assist in Sporting Kansas City's last MLS match, a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
  • Zusi now has 25 regular season assists in his MLS career, tying Mark Chung for sixth most in club history.
  • Zusi's game-winning assist on Saturday moves him into a tie with Josh Wolff and Davy Arnaud for third place on Sporting KC's all-time chart with 10.
  • Claudio Bieler becomes the third Sporting Kansas City Designated Player to score on his MLS debut, joining Claudio Lopez (2008) and Omar Bravo (2011).
  • Bieler becomes the third current Sporting KC player to score on his debut, along with Soony Saad (2011) and C.J. Sapong (2011)
  • After recording a career-high seven assists in 2012, Myers earned the assist on Bieler's goal on Saturday. He now has 10 career MLS regular season assists.
  • Sporting Kansas City scored three or more goals on only three occasions in 2012. The team averaged 1.2 goals per game in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City's lineup on Saturday featured four changes from the team's starting XI from the 2012 season opener. Roger Espinoza (Wigan Athletic), Kei Kamara (on loan to Norwich City), Julio Cesar (Toronto FC) and Teal Bunbury (injury) were replaced by Oriol Rosell, Claudio Bieler, Paulo Nagamura and Benny Feilhaber.
  • Matt Besler, the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of the club's last 21 MLS matches (including postseason).
  • For the fourth straight season, Nielsen and Matt Besler started Sporting Kansas City's season opener. Amongst active Sporting KC players, only Graham Zusi (2009) started a KC season opener prior to Nielsen and Besler.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 20-1-8 all-time in the MLS regular season with the backline of Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin starting in defense.
  • Paulo Nagamura, now in his ninth MLS season, appeared in his 185th regular season MLS match of his career. He is one of 38 active MLS players to appear in 185 or more regular season matches.
  • Saturday marked Paulo Nagamura's 30th birthday. He required four stitches following the match to close a gash on his left leg.
  • Bobby Convey's appearance on Saturday marked his 10th season in Major League Soccer, most among all active players on the Sporting KC roster.
  • Midfielder Benny Feilhaber and defender Mechack Jerome made their Sporting KC debuts on Saturday. Feilhaber, acquired from the New England Revolution during the offseason, started and played 82 minutes while Jerome, signed on Thursday, came in during second-half stoppage time.
  • Aurelien Collin started the 50th regular season match of his Sporting KC and MLS career on Saturday.
  • Seth Sinovic surpassed 6,000 regular season minutes played in his MLS career on Saturday, becoming one of eight players on Sporting KC's active roster to do so.
  • Sporting Kansas City has gone 66 consecutive MLS matches (including playoffs) without conceding a goal on a corner kick, dating back to May 21, 2011 at Seattle.
  • Peter Vermes, who began his fifth season as the Sporting KC Manager on Saturday, has a .550 career winning percentage which is the best mark for a Sporting KC coach all-time (46-35-30).
  • Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in their last 13 MLS regular season matches.
  • Eight different Sporting KC players have scored the club's nine goals against Philadelphia all-time. Zusi leads all players now with two goals against the Union in MLS competition.
  • Sporting Kansas City wore the team's new primary uniforms for the first time on Saturday, featuring Ivy Funds as the club's first jersey sponsor in team history.
  • Fans can order the new primary kit at shop.sportingkc.com.
  • Saturday's match was the first game of the 2013 MLS season and was the earliest match played in MLS history, surpassing the previous mark set a year ago with the League's opening game on March 10.
  • Sporting Kansas City kicked off its 18th season on Saturday as a charter member of Major League Soccer since its inception in 1996.
  • Saturday's season opener was a rematch of Sporting Kansas City's 2012 regular season finale against Philadelphia, marking the fourth time in club history that the team has played the same opponent to end a regular season and begin the next year's regular season (96/97 vs San Jose, 09/10 vs D.C. United, 11/12 vs D.C. United).
  • Sporting Kansas City hosted the team's official watch party in the Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park on Saturday. Forwards Teal Bunbury and Jacob Peterson were in attendance.
  • Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union will meet two more times in the 2013 regular season, but not until Sept. 27 at Sporting Park. Sporting KC will then return to PPL Park for the regular season finale on Oct. 26.
  • Sporting Kansas City holds the advantage in the all-time series with a 3-1-3 record in MLS play against Philadelphia since the Union joined MLS in 2010.
  • The club won an MLS Match at PPL Park for the first time
  • on Saturday and are now 1-1-2 in MLS competition at the stadium.
  • With the win, Sporting KC is yet to win an MLS match in only two current MLS venues: BBVA Compass Stadium and Buck Shaw Stadium.
  • PPL park served as the site of the 2012 MLS All-Star Game, featuring Sporting Kansas City's Jimmy Nielsen, Graham Zusi and Aurelien Collin. This year, Sporting Park will host Major League Soccer's marquee event on July 31.
  • Sporting KC was one of only two teams to secure a full Designated Player during the offseason (Rafael acquired as young DP by D.C. United). Out of the three teams that acquired DP's during the offseason, Sporting Kansas City is only club to do so with a permanent move; Rafael (DC) and Diego Valeri (Portland) are both on loan from their respective clubs.
  • Sporting Kansas City forward Bobby Convey was born in Philadelphia and grew up 15 minutes from PPL Park.
  • With the three goals on Saturday, Sporting Kansas City surpassed 300 goals scored all-time on the road in the MLS regular season and 900 points all-time on the road in the MLS regular season.
  • More than 100 Sporting Kansas City supporters traveled to Philadelphia on Saturday for the season opener. The group welcomed the team bus to the stadium and greeted them upon their arrival back to the hotel after the match.
  • Sporting Kansas City will next face Toronto FC on Saturday, March 9 in the first-ever MLS match in the Rogers Centre. Following the opening two road fixtures, Sporting Park will host the home opener on Saturday, March 16 against the Chicago Fire.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 213-206-109 all-time in the MLS regular season and 72-131-62 away from home in the regular season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 9-6-1 in the month of March all-time.
  • Aurelien Collin led all players on Saturday with 19 clearances, five aerial duels won and 85 touches.
  • Sporting Kansas City was without Kei Kamara (loan), Teal Bunbury (disabled list), Jacob Peterson (disabled list) and Mikey Lopez (international duty) on Saturday.
  • Mikey Lopez started and played the full 90 minutes in the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team's 2-0 victory over Cuba on Friday in the semifinal of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The U.S. U20's, which have qualified for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer, will take on Mexico on Sunday in the championship match.
  • Forward Kei Kamara, on loan from Sporting Kansas City to Norwich City through May 6, played 18 minutes against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
  • The Sporting KC Show on Sports Radio 810 WHB will air from 7-8 p.m. CT on Wednesday, March 6.