"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 win was dominant, thorough, comprehensive and well-rounded.


In a spectacle that saw the gray Kansas City skies hit pause on precipitation during the perfect two-hour window of time on Sunday afternoon, Sporting (3-2-1, 10 points) strolled to a 3-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2-3-1, 7 points) that vaulted Manager Peter Vermes' men to third place in the Western Conference.


Sporting attacked with precision, passed with sharpness and attacked some more. By the end of the day, striker Alan Pulido had a brace, Daniel Salloi had a goal of his own and goalkeeper Tim Melia—making his 2021 debut after returning from injury—had his fourth consecutive regular season clean sheet.


"It was a complete game by us," Vermes said after the match. "From the opening whistle, we were excellent in our movement (on) the ball. We were excellent in our movement off the ball. We created some very good chances."


Indeed, Sporting enjoyed two thirds of possession and their 27 shots were tied for the fourth most in a regular season match in team history. After manufacturing 23 shots in their first three games of 2021, the club has averaged almost that many in their past three games. The table below highlights Sporting's attacking resurgence after a relatively slow start.


SPORTING KC ATTACK IN 2021
(STATS PER MATCH, MLS RANK IN PARENTHESIS)

<strong>Stat</strong>
<strong>First 3 Games<br> (MLS matches thru 5/2)</strong>
<strong>Last 3 Games<br> (MLS matches since 5/3)</strong>
Shots
7.7 (t-24th)
22.3 (1st)
Shots on Goal
3.0 (t-22nd)
6.3 (1st)
Chances Created
4.3 (27th)
16.7 (1st)
Big Chances
1.0 (t-22nd)
5.0 (1st)
Possession
45.0% (25th)
59.8% (3rd)
Passing Accuracy
76.4% (22nd)
86.7% (2nd)

"My expectation is that every time we step on the field, that we play the way that we did today," Vermes said. "Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s early on in the season. We’ve had a couple performances that were very similar to this one in that we’ve been dominant in the game and we’ve played very close to the style of play in which we want to. I think when we do that, it yields results like it did today.


Pulido, of course, was one of the chief architects in Sunday's brilliant display. The Mexican international made the score 2-0 with a first-half penalty kick, marking the first time Sporting has scored multiple first-half goals since March 7, 2020, then doubled his tally in impressive fashion after in the 58th minute.


Sunday's salvo continued an undeniable trend: simply put, Pulido is one of the league's most productive attackers. Among players with 750 minutes played since the start of 2020, Pulido has the highest goals and primary assists per 90 minutes rate in MLS.


MOST GOALS AND PRIMARY ASSISTS PER 90 MINUTES
(REG. SEASON + PLAYOFFS SINCE 2020, MINIMUM 750 MINUTES)

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<strong>#</strong>
<strong>Player</strong>
<strong>Club</strong>
<strong>G+A per 90</strong>
<strong>G</strong>
<strong>A</strong>
<strong>MIN</strong>
1
Alan Pulido
Sporting KC
0.92
9
5
1369
2
Raul Ruidiaz
Seattle
0.89
19
4
2327
3
Kevin Molino
Minnesota
0.88
13
2
1532
4
Emanuel Reynoso
Minnesota
0.86
3
12
1571

"When you have a player like Alan, your team moves with the success of a player like that," Vermes said. "The bottom line is that he’s incredible for the way that we want to play. He’s incredible within the group of guys, his work ethic in the game, his hungriness to score all the time. All those things are very, very important to what we do. His quality today was very evident."


If Pulido was Sporting's Batman on Sunday, Salloi thrived in the role as Robin. The 24-year-old academy product accounted for five shots and provided the game-winning goal in the 28th minute, showcasing his cerebral skill with a crisp finish into the far corner after combining with Pulido on the right side of the box.


With his goal, Salloi became the seventh Homegrown Player in MLS history to score 20 times in the regular season and playoffs combined, joining Gyasi Zardes, Diego Fagundez, Juan Agudelo, Jordan Morris, Jonathan Osorio and Harry Shipp.


He also entered into a tie for eighth place on Sporting's game-winning goals chart in the regular season. Eight of Salloi's 17 regular season goals (47%) have been of the game-winning variety, by far the highest rate among the well-established players on the list below.


SPORTING KC GAME-WINNING GOALS
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)

<strong>#</strong>
<strong>Player</strong>
<strong>GWG</strong>
<strong>Total G</strong>
<strong>% GWG</strong>
1
Dom Dwyer<br> Preki
13<br> 13
57<br> 71
0.23<br> 0.18
3
Chris Klein
12
39
0.31
4
Kei Kamara<br> Josh Wolff
11<br> 11
38<br> 43
0.29<br> 0.26
6
Davy Arnaud
10
43
0.23
7
Graham Zusi
9
29
0.31
8
Daniel Salloi<br> Digital Takawira
8<br> 8
17<br> 28
0.47<br> 0.29

After navigating tough seasons in 2019 and 2020, Salloi has shown legitimate signs of returning to the form he boasted in 2018 when he was the club's golden boot winner. He had 11 goals and seven assists during the 2018 regular season, good for 0.71 goals and assists per 90 minutes. After seeing that clip drop to 0.11 from 2019 to 2020, Salloi is back up to 0.63 goals and assists per 90 minutes this year.


DANIEL SALLOI IN MLS REGULAR SEASON (2018-2021)

<strong>Season(s)</strong>
<strong>G</strong>
<strong>A</strong>
<strong>MIN</strong>
<strong>G+A per 90</strong>
2018
11
7
2291
0.71
2019 + 2020
1
1
1706
0.11
2021
2
1
431
0.63

Pulido and Salloi etched their names onto Sunday's score sheet, but every Sporting player that stepped onto the pitch contributed to what became a historic team performance.


As illustrated by the first table in this story, Sporting began the season with a 76.4% clip in passing accuracy through Week 3. That number has climbed to 86.7% in the last three matches, thanks in large part to Sporting's masterclass in ball movement on Sunday. The team finished the game with 91.6% passing accuracy, the second-highest in club history since Opta began tracking the stat in 2010.


Perhaps even more impressively, Sporting's 91.6% passing accuracy was the fourth-highest in MLS history against a full-strength opponent that received no red cards in the match.


HIGHEST PASSING ACCURACY VS. FULL-STRENGTH OPPONENT (NO RED CARDS) IN MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2010

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<strong>Passing<br> Accuracy</strong>
<strong>Date</strong>
<strong>Team</strong>
<strong>Opponent</strong>
<strong>Result</strong>
94.0%
08/21/2020
Toronto FC
vs. Vancouver
W 1-0
91.8%
04/06/2019
Toronto FC
vs. Chicago
T 2-2
91.6%
05/16/2021
Sporting KC
vs. Vancouver
W 3-0
91.5%
07/07/2018
Montreal
vs. Colorado
W 2-1
91.4%
07/16/2020
Atlanta
vs. Cincinnati
L 0-1

As for individual standouts in Sunday's passing exhibition, consider this: only two players successfully completed more than 100 passes in a regular season match last year. No players had done it in 2021 until Sporting's two Catalan center backs did on Sunday: Andreu Fontas completed 102 and Ilie completed 101. Deployed as a holding midfielder, Gianluca Busio was equally effective by completing all but one of his 67 passes.


Lastly, we provide updates on two statistical storylines that carried relevance going into the game. Sporting has now scored in 18 consecutive regular season home matches since August 2019, the second-longest run in club history and two shy of tying the record.


SPORTING KC: LONGEST HOME SCORING STREAKS
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)

<strong>Games</strong>
<strong>First match</strong>
<strong>Final match</strong>
20
06/17/2011
04/14/2012
18
08/10/2019
05/16/2021
17
07/14/2001
07/27/2002
15
04/13/1996
09/07/1996
14
06/03/2018
04/27/2019
14
03/18/2017
09/24/2017

*denotes active streak


As for the regular season series against Vancouver, Sporting continues to rule it with an iron fist. Vermes' side has gone 11-3-4 in 18 regular season meetings, with the last six matches yielding five wins and a draw. During that six-game stretch, Sporting has outscored Vancouver 20-3 and outshot the Whitecaps by an average of 21-9.


SPORTING VS. VANCOUVER SINCE 2018
(MLS REGULAR SEASON)

<strong>Date</strong>
<strong>Result</strong>
<strong>H/A</strong>
<strong>Shot Advantage</strong>
<strong>SKC Possession</strong>
04/20/2018
W 6-0
Home
SKC 34-5
79.5%
10/17/2018
W 4-1
Away
SKC 20-10
53.6%
05/18/2019
T 1-1
Home
SKC 15-11
46.1%
07/13/2019
W 3-0
Away
SKC 20-13
55.9%
02/29/2020
W 3-1
Away
SKC 11-9
51.9%
05/16/2021
W 3-0
Home
SKC 27-9
67.2%

Sunday’s feel-good result set the table for a compelling road test against the San Jose Earthquakes (3-3-0, 9 points) at 9 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Western Conference clash at Avaya Stadium is slated for 9 p.m. CT with live coverage on Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest, BallySports.com, the Bally Sports app, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.

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