One week after Sporting Kansas City extended the Houston Dynamo's road winless streak to 26 matches - the longest active streak in MLS and third longest in league history - with a 1-0 win at Children's Mercy Park, the club returned to the road to face another opponent on a rare run of form.
This time it was a Colorado Rapids side that is now unbeaten in 18 consecutive regular season home matches following Sporting's 2-0 defeat at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night.
The Rapids' run is the longest active home unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer and one shy of a club record. In fact, Colorado's current stretch has only been topped 10 times since MLS' inaugural season in 1996.
LONGEST HOME UNBEATEN STREAKS
(MLS Regular Season All-Time)
1. Houston Dynamo 30 matches (7/9/11-4/28/13)
2. Real Salt Lake 29 matches (6/6/09-5/14/11)
3. Sporting KC 24 matches (6/19/16-9/24/17)
4. LA Galaxy 23 matches (4/12/14-5/27/15)
5. Portland Timbers 22 matches (4/6/13-5/17/14)
5. Columbus Crew 22 matches (6/28/08-9/26/09)
7. Los Angeles FC 19 matches (8/15/18-8/25/19)
7. New York Red Bulls 19 matches (4/24/16-4/29/17)
7. Colorado Rapids 19 matches (3/12/16-3/18/17)
7. FC Dallas 19 matches (8/29/15-9/3/16)
Dick's Sporting Goods Park, sitting at an elevation over a mile above sea level, has proved to be a difficult place to play for most teams in Major League Soccer and Sporting Kansas City is no exception.
Sporting is 5-19-12 when playing away to Colorado in the regular season and 1-7-8 all-time at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the regular season, including a span of nine straight road matches in the series without a win (0-5-4) dating back to the 2015 season.
In addition to the altitude, Sporting Kansas City found themselves shorthanded on Saturday as recent injuries sidelined three starters -- midfielder Uri Rosell, winger Daniel Salloi and forward Khiry Shelton -- in addition to the long-term absences of Designated Players Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda.
"It's hard when you have all the guys out that we have out right now," Manager Peter Vermes said postmatch. "It's just too many guys out and too many changes within the group and a lot of new guys in the team that haven't been here before. So it’s just very difficult."
Playing a regular season match without Pulido, Salloi or Shelton for the first time since the start of the 2020 season, Vermes turned to on-loan striker Nikola Vujnovic. The 25-year-old forward, who trained with the team for the first time on Wednesday after arriving from Europe, was one of four players to make a Sporting Kansas City debut on Saturday along with second-half substitutes Kortne Ford, Kayden Pierre and Ben Sweat.
In doing so, Vujnovic became the seventh different player to start at center forward for Sporting KC in a regular season match in the past three seasons: Pulido (26), Shelton (20), Kinda (4), Erik Hurtado (3), Gianluca Busio (2), Wilson Harris (1) and Vujnovic (1).
On the opposite side, Rapids center forward Diego Rubio provided the game-winning goal in the 21st minute on Saturday - marking Sporting's second straight road match to start the 2022 campaign in which a former player scored the match winner. The 28-year-old Chilean striker began his MLS career in Kansas City from 2016-2018 and is one of three players in MLS history to score 15 or more career regular season goals for both Sporting KC and the Colorado Rapids along with Mark Chung and Kei Kamara.
Coincidentally, all three players are part of a group of just seven players all-time to have scored multiple regular season goals against Sporting since departing the club.
Unable to find a second ever regular season win at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Sporting Kansas City will next travel to take on Chicago Fire FC at 5 p.m. CT this Saturday in hopes of a second ever regular season win at Soldier Field.
Seventeen-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina is yet to concede a goal in 2022 for a Chicago Fire FC defense that has kept three consecutive clean sheets. Only two teams in MLS history - New York in 2007 and Vancouver in 2012 - have recorded shutouts in their first four matches of a regular season.
Saturday's match will air live locally on 38 The Spot with a live stream also available on SportingKC.com and in the Sporting KC app for viewers in Kansas and Missouri (excluding St. Louis area per MLS policy). CHIvSKC will also stream live on ESPN+ for out-of-market subscribers.