Running throughout the season on Sports Radio 810 WHB, the Sporting Kansas City Show is available on several podcast hubs including Spotify and iTunes as well as SportingKC.com. With Nate Bukaty, Aly Trost and Conall McCourt hosting the weekly program, Sporting fans have a place to go to catch up on club storylines, guest interviews and more.
Defensive midfielder Ilie Sanchez brings no shortage of quality to Sporting Kansas City every time he steps on the pitch, but the 30-year-old Spaniard would be the first to admit that scoring goals isn’t necessarily in his repertoire.
A 2018 MLS All-Star and an ever-present fixture in Sporting’s lineup over the last five seasons, Ilie predicates his game on pinpoint passing, tactical nous, defensive positioning, a high work rate and leadership.
But when Sporting’s relentless search for an equalizer in Sunday’s emotional showdown against Matt Besler and Austin FC looked destined to fall short, an unlikely source popped up to draw Sporting level in the 82nd minute. Ilie’s header off a Johnny Russell corner kick restored parity and set the stage for substitute Gadi Kinda to bag a dramatic 90th-minute winner, igniting euphoric celebrations at Children’s Mercy Park as the hosts prevailed 2-1.
“I used to think that when I scored, there was something wrong with the team because you want the other guys to score,” Ilie said during Tuesday’s episode of the Sporting KC Show on Sports Radio 810 WHB. “You want the guys with the better skills and better finishing to be in front of the goal and show their qualities. But on Sunday, it was a simple job for me because Johnny put in a great ball and I was in position to head the ball in the back of the net.”
Ilie, who recorded his first goal since July 2019 on the play, provided fascinating insight on the moments that led up to his equalizer.
“Busio crossed two or three similar corner kicks into the near post from the other side of the field right before our goal. We couldn’t get to those balls because I was the first one to the near post and the defender won the header. Alan (Pulido) realized that and said, ‘Let me go first; I will pull out the defender and (you) will have a header on goal.’ That’s exactly what happened, so I would give Johnny and Alan the credit. The cross was pretty much everything, but the movement from Alan to pull out the defender was key for me to be able to score.”
He continued: “The players, the coaches, the fans—all of us were confident that we could come back and score a second goal with the time we had left.”
Ilie’s entire interview on Tuesday’s episode is well worth the listen above, serving as a perfect table setter for tonight’s showdown between Sporting (2-1-1, 7 points) and rivals Houston Dynamo FC (1-1-2, 5 points) at BBVA Stadium in downtown Houston.
The Western Conference clash will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, BallySports.com, the Bally Sports app, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.