Beyond the Box Score: Sporting KC launches attack on usually solid LA defense

Saturday’s showdown between Sporting Kansas City and LA Galaxy was billed as one of the biggest matchups of the 2014 Major League Soccer season thus far. Televised nationally on ESPN2, the contest featured the League’s previous two MLS Cup champions and five players who were named to the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 6 in Portland.

Sporting KC certainly made the most of the national spotlight. Before kickoff, defender Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi announced they had re-signed with the club on Designated Player contracts.

Then Peter Vermes’ men injected life into the Supporters’ Shield race with their third victory in eight days, a 2-1 result that saw LA Galaxy concede multiple goals for just the third time in 2014.

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber cashed in on Sporting KC’s early dominance with an 11th-minute free kick. The last time LA Galaxy had allowed a goal in the first 15 minutes of an MLS regular season match was August 5, 2012 in a 4-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC, a span of 60 games.

The hosts kept LA on their heels for much of the first half before taking a 2-0 lead in the 61st minute. Zusi surpassed the club's all-time corner kick record set by Preki as he took his 453rd career corner kick, which led to Lawrence Olum's header after the ball bounced around the box.

Sporting KC’s 19 total shots on Saturday—their second highest output in 2014—were the most LA Galaxy has faced in an MLS match since April 28, 2013, a stretch spanning 45 games (including postseason). Sporting KC's 11 corner kicks were also the most LA has conceded in a League game since May 29, 2010.

LA’s six-match winless run in Kansas City is its longest active road drought against any MLS club. The last time LA beat Kansas City away from the StubHub Center was Sept. 27, 2007 when a player named David Beckham featured at Arrowhead Stadium.

Saturday was also historic for the fact that Sporting Park set a regular season attendance record of 21,493. Since opening in June 2011, the venue has sold out 59 of 67 MLS matches (including 46 straight) and averaged 19,260 spectators, 104.3 percent of its 18,500 capacity.

Sporting Park’s average attendance is 20,007 through 10 MLS matches of the 2014 home campaign. The stadium’s 108.3 percent capacity this season ranks first in the League (excluding CenturyLink Field in Seattle, where official capacity is 38,500 but expands to 67,000 for select matches).

2014 MLS Percent Capacity (as of July 21)

Club Stadium Capacity 2014 Avg. Attendance % Capacity
Sporting KC Sporting Park 18,467 20,007 108.3
Toronto FC BMO Field 21,859 22,591 103.3
Portland Timbers Providence Park 20,438 20,814 101.8
Real Salt Lake Rio Tinto Stadium 20,000 20,193 101.0
Vancouver Whitecaps BC Place 20,987 21,000 99.9