Sporting Kansas City’s path of destruction through the Western Conference continued Saturday night as unplayable forwards Alan Pulido and Daniel Salloi struck on either side of halftime to spur a 2-0 victory over FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium.
Like many of Sporting’s recent performances away from home, Saturday’s win felt extra sweet. For one, Dallas had gone unbeaten in the previous six meetings between the clubs and hadn’t lost at Toyota Stadium in almost exactly a year, racking up 10 wins and eight draws on home soil since Aug. 16, 2020. Moreover, Sporting kept their place at the summit of the West and stayed within striking distance of the New England Revolution in the Supporters’ Shield race.
But perhaps most strikingly, Sporting remained red-hot on the road, delivering a clinical performance in one of the league’s most difficult venues to emerge with a road result. Manager Peter Vermes’ men have done exactly that no less than five times since the start of July, going 4-0-1 away from home since losing at the Portland Timbers on June 19.
“Teams winning on the road is always very important,” Salloi said after the match. “Long term, I think that’s what makes teams champions. We are on the right track. Tactically, I think it’s nice to play away because teams want to control the game in their own stadium, and they actually come us at a little bit so more spaces open up. We can get our chances and play more around them.”
Sporting’s five-game road unbeaten streak in a single MLS regular season is tied for the second longest in club history. Incredibly enough, the team has taken 13 points during a five-match away stretch for only the third time ever.
Sporting KC: Most points in a five-match away stretch
(MLS regular season, all-time)
- 15 points | 5-0-0 record | 06/06/14 to 07/26/14
- 13 points | 4-0-1 record | 07/04/21 to 08/14/21
- 13 points | 4-0-1 record | 10/01/11 to 04/18/12 (spanned 2 seasons)
- 12 points | 4-1-0 record | 07/04/12 to 08/18/12 and 07/14/2012 to 09/19/12
- 11 points | 3-0-2 record | 05/30/97 to 07/04/97 (both draws were shootout wins)
- 11 points | 3-0-2 record | 04/08/00 to 05/27/00
- 11 points | 3-0-2 record | 06/05/04 to 06/26/04 and 06/09/04 to 07/17/04
- 11 points | 3-0-2 record | 05/12/13 to 07/20/13
Sporting KC: Longest road unbeaten runs in single season
(MLS regular season, all-time)
- 6 matches | 2-0-4 record | 08/12/00 to 09/09/00
- 6 matches | 4-0-2 record | 06/05/04 to 07/17/04
- 6 matches | 2-0-4 record | 05/28/11 to 07/02/11
- 6 matches | 3-0-3 record | 08/04/12 to 10/20/12
- 5 matches | 3-0-2 record | 05/30/97 to 07/04/97
- 5 matches | 3-0-2 record | 04/08/00 to 05/27/00
- 5 matches | 3-0-2 record | 05/12/13 to 07/20/13
- 5 matches | 5-0-0 record | 06/06/14 to 07/26/14
- 5 matches | 4-0-1 record | 07/04/21 to 08/14/21
Two defining characteristics make Sporting’s road streak even more impressive. For starters, each of the five matches have come against opponents that have been anywhere from good to excellent at home over the last two seasons. To take 13 of a possible 15 points in trips to the LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC, LAFC, Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas is a herculean task that, simply put, cannot go overlooked.
Consider this: the five clubs mentioned above have combined to lose just 17 of their 87 regular season home matches since the start of 2020. Seattle, Colorado and Dallas have been particularly difficult to beat at home, while the two LA clubs wield some of the most star-studded rosters in the league.
The second standout component of Sporting’s road unbeaten run is the convincing and ruthless manner in which they have cast aside their opponents. Vermes’ side has scored 11 goals and conceded just two during the five-game stretch despite being outshot 81-45. The difference maker here, of course, is that Sporting has cashed in on 24.4% of their shot attempts, while opponents have managed a shot conversion rate of only 2.5%. Goalkeeper Tim Melia deserves kudos in this respect, as does an ever-improving backline and defensive midfield.
Home records of SKC opponents during current unbeaten run
(MLS regular season since start of 2020)
- LA Galaxy | 11-7-2 (32 GF, 30 GA) | SKC won 2-0 on July 4
- Seattle | 12-3-6 (45 GF, 19 GA) | SKC won 3-1 on July 25
- LAFC | 11-4-6 (44 GF, 27 GA) | SKC won 4-1 on Aug. 4
- Colorado | 8-2-5 (29 GF, 16 GA) | SKC tied 0-0 on Aug. 7
- Dallas | 11-1-8 (39 GF, 18 GA) | SKC won 2-0 on Aug. 14
- TOTAL | 53-17-27 (189 GF, 110 GA) | SKC went 4-0-1
Sporting KC during current road unbeaten streak
- Goals | SKC 11, opponents 2
- Shots | SKC 45, opponents 81
- Shots on goal | SKC 21, opponents 19
- Shooting accuracy | SKC 46.7%, opponents 23.5%
- Shot conversion | SKC 24.4%, opponents 2.5%
- Saves | SKC 17, opponents 10
“We’ve got a team who, in my opinion, when we’re on our top of our game, we play the best stuff in the league and the most attractive stuff in the league,” captain Johnny Russell said postgame. “We’ve shown that we can do the other side of it as well. If it has to turn into a fight and scrappy game, we’re more than capable. We have so much experience throughout our team. Guys who have been there and done it. That’s infectious throughout your team. When we see one guy go, the next guy goes and we all follow suit. It’s great to be a part of that.”
As for the individuals who sparked Saturday’s triumph, headlines went to goal scorers Pulido and Salloi.
We start with Salloi, the 25-year-old Sporting KC Academy product whose MLS All-Star campaign went from brilliant to better than brilliant this weekend. The winger now has two straight games with a goal and an assist—the first Kansas City player to hit that feat in back-to-back regular season appearances since Claudio Lopez in 2008—and he is one of only three players in club history with multiple 11-goal seasons alongside Dom Dwyer and Preki.
Furthermore, Salloi is only the fifth player in Sporting history to amass 11 goals and six assists in a regular season, and one of only two (hey there, Preki) to have two such seasons.
Sporting KC: 11 goals and six assists in a regular season
- Daniel Salloi (2018, 2021)
- Kei Kamara (2012)
- Eddie Johnson (2007)
- Preki (1996, 1997, 2003)
- Digital Takawira (1996)
Salloi’s 17 combined goals and assists are tied for the most in MLS this season, joining fellow MLS MVP candidate Carles Gil of the New England Revolution
Pulido, meanwhile, offered a prompt reminder that when he is on the field, there aren’t many players in MLS who can match his production. Since the start of 2020, the 30-year-old striker leads MLS with 0.97 goals per 90 minutes in the regular season (minimum 1,000 minutes played). Placing fifth on the list below is Salloi, thanks entirely to his phenomenal 2021 campaign.
Anyone needing further evidence of Salloi and Pulido positively impacting the team can look no further than this: Sporting are 11-1-0 when Pulido scores and 18-2-4 when Salloi scores in the regular season.
Sporting will continue their daunting stretch of seven competitive matches in 22 days when they return to Children's Mercy Park on Wednesday for a compelling showdown against the sixth-place Portland Timbers (7-8-2, 23 points). Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT with tickets available on SeatGeek.com and live coverage on Bally Sports Midwest Plus, Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, BallySports.com and the Bally Sports app.