Highlights: Sporting KC 2-1 Nashville SC | October 11, 2020

"Beyond The Box Score" is a weekly series presented by Compass Minerals that takes a statistical dive into every Sporting match, bringing to light the intriguing numbers and factoids that don't appear in the typical box score. To visit the series archive, click here.



The 25-year history of Sporting Kansas City features its fair share of wondergoals. The likes of Preki, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Yohan Croizet, Dom Dwyer and Kerry Zavagnin have all bagged stunners that stand out vividly in the memories of longtime supporters.


And following a 2-1 defeat of Nashville SC on Sunday night at Children's Mercy Park, fans were left celebrating yet another world-class strike that will go down in club annals as one of the very best.



With the score deadlocked at 1-1 in the 79th minute, forward Erik Hurtado picked Amadou Dia's long ball out of the air and unleashed a sublime volley into the far corner of the net that ultimately stood as the match winner.


Hurtado's masterclass should win AT&T Goal of the Week voting by a landslide and will likely stand as a frontrunner for MLS Goal of the Year. At the very least, it marks the continuation of a trend that is becoming increasingly hard to ignore: Hurtado has a nose for goal.

The 29-year-old striker, who celebrated his soon-to-be-father status following the goal, has scored three times in just 153 minutes of action this season. His clip of 1.76 goals per 90 minutes leads all MLS players who have at least two goals in 2020.


MOST GOALS PER 90 MINUTES IN 2020 REGULAR SEASON
(MINIMUM TWO GOALS SCORED)

<strong>Player</strong>
<strong>Club</strong>
<strong>Goals per 90</strong>
<strong>Goals</strong>
<strong>Minutes</strong>
Erik Hurtado
Sporting Kansas City
1.76
3
153
Anthony Fontana
Philadelphia Union
1.20
4
301
Federico Higuain
D.C. United
1.16
2
110
Santiago Mosquera
FC Dallas
1.08
4
333
Danny Musovski
LAFC
1.08
4
334

"The confidence you need to take that shot on, I don’t think people understand how hard that technique is," said fellow Sporting forward Johnny Russell after the game, remarking on Hurtado's moment of magic. "He executed it perfectly. I said that to him at the time as well, I couldn’t believe what I’d seen, to be honest. I thought tonight would take something a little bit special and he more than produced that."


Added Hurtado, "Amadou Dia and I have worked on that play a few times on off days. He gets the ball out wide and he plays me across or plays me behind the defense, so we talked about it before the game: if we got a chance to run that play, he knows. He saw me make the run in behind and I just had to focus and keep eye contact on the ball and connect with it. I (was) fortunate to get it in the back of the net."


Good fortune or not, Hurtado's jaw-dropper propelled Sporting to a pivotal win that closed that gap on first-place Seattle Sounders FC to one point in the Western Conference standings. Sunday's result also punctuated the seventh time in club history to see Sporting secure three regular season victories in nine days or fewer.


Five of the first seven occurrences took place in the club's first 10 years of existence. Sporting has managed the rare feat only twice in the last 15 seasons.


SPORTING KC: THREE REGULAR SEASON WINS IN 9 DAYS OR LESS

<strong>Dates</strong>
<strong>Results</strong>
<strong>Opponents</strong>
07/27/1996<br> 07/31/1996<br> 08/04/1996
W 4-2<br> W 3-2<br> W 4-2
vs. NE Revolution<br> at D.C. United<br> at D.C. United
04/15/2000<br> 04/19/2000<br> 04/22/2000
W 2-0<br> W 2-1<br> W 1-0
vs. San Jose Earthquakes<br> at New York Red Bulls<br> vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny
05/13/2000<br> 05/17/2000<br> 05/20/2000
W 2-0<br> W 2-0<br> W 2-0
vs. New York Red Bulls<br> vs. D.C. United<br> vs. San Jose Earthquakes
04/14/2001<br> 04/18/2001<br> 04/21/2001
W 2-1<br> W 2-1<br> W 3-0
vs. LA Galaxy<br> vs. Miami Fusion<br> at Columbus Crew
08/06/2005<br> 08/10/2005<br> 08/13/2005
W 2-1<br> W 3-2<br> W 4-2
at NE Revolution<br> at Chicago Fire FC<br> at Real Salt Lake
07/12/2014<br> 07/16/2014<br> 07/19/2014
W 2-1<br> W 2-1<br> W 2-1
at Montreal Impact<br> at Columbus Crew SC<br> vs. LA Galaxy
10/03/2020<br> 10/07/2020<br> 10/11/2020
W 2-1<br> W 1-0<br> W 2-1
at Houston Dynamo<br> vs. Chicago Fire FC<br> vs. Nashville SC

Hurtado's volley will rightly go down as the headline-grabber, but Sporting's comeback win was kickstarted in the 53rd minute when Gerso Fernandes slotted a Johnny Russell cross into an empty net to level the scoreline at 1-1. The play was the latest feather in the cap for Russell, who had scored or assisted on six straight Sporting home goals prior to Hurtado stamping his name on the contest.


The 30-year-old Russell, who now has six goals and three assists on the season, has been particularly devastating at Children's Mercy Park during his three-year tenure with the club. Since the start of 2018, his 33 combined regular season goals (19) and assists (14) at the stadium are 22 more than any other player.


MOST GOALS + ASSISTS AT CHILDREN'S MERCY PARK
(MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2018)

<strong>Player</strong>
<strong>G + A</strong>
<strong>Goals</strong>
<strong>Assists</strong>
<strong>Games</strong>
Johnny Russell
33
19
14
38
Daniel Salloi
11
6
5
32
Roger Espinoza
10
2
8
29
Krisztian Nemeth
9
7
2
15
Felipe Gutierrez
9
6
3
28
Diego Rubio
9
5
4
11
Ilie Sanchez
9
4
5
38
Yohan Croziet
9
4
5
28

Russell's assist to Gerso effectively swung the momentum in Sporting's favor after Nashville enjoyed the better of play in the early stages and took a 15th-minute lead through defender Walker Zimmerman.


"We gave them a bit of momentum and let them have too much of the ball, and obviously they (got their) goal," Russell said postgame. "The last twenty minutes of the first half, I thought we picked it up and then came out in the second half and I thought we dominated the second half. It was only a matter of time. Getting the goal relatively early helps."


Sporting's spirited fightback gave the team its second win this season when trailing at halftime. That ties the club's regular-season high since the dawn of the Opta era in 2010, equaling the two such victories that took place in both 2015 and 2018.


SPORTING KC WHEN TRAILING AT HALFTIME
(MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2010)

<strong>Season</strong>
<strong>Record</strong>
2010
1-7-2
2011
0-2-6
2012
1-4-0
2013
0-4-1
2014
1-8-0
2015
2-3-2
2016
1-6-2
2017
0-5-3
2018
2-4-4
2019
1-8-2
2020
2-3-0

Looking further back, all the way to the inaugural 1996 MLS campaign, Sporting are 24-152-45 all-time in regular season matches when trailing at halftime. The team’s 69 results from a halftime deficit are second most in MLS, one behind D.C. United’s 31-173-39 record.


Lastly, Sunday saw Sporting push their impressive scoring run to 16 straight matches since the start of the 2020 campaign. That's tied for the third-longest regular season streak in club history, four shy of tying the record set across the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Manager Peter Vermes' side remains the only MLS team yet to be shut out in 2020.


SPORTING KC: LONGEST SCORING STREAKS IN MLS REGULAR SEASON

<strong>Matches</strong>
<strong>Start</strong>
<strong>Stop</strong>
20
08/19/2006
06/24/2007
18
08/09/2008
04/26/2009
16<br> 16
08/21/2002<br> 02/29/2020
06/28/2003<br> ?
15
06/29/1996
09/21/1996

"The biggest thing I think is that we’ve been focused on the game at hand," Vermes said afterwards. "The guys have done a good job of that here as of late. I’m not going to say we’ve figured it out by any means, but we’ve gotten into a better rhythm with games every 3-4 days. We’ve been smart with the lineup, we’ve been smart with our substitutions and we’ve got to continue to try to keep doing that."


Although Vermes will be pleased with Sunday's outcome, there simply is no rest for the weary. Sporting (9-5-2, 29 points) will continue their pursuit of first place in the West on Wednesday when they visits FC Dallas (5-4-6, 21 points) at Toyota Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.