Andreu Fontas - Sporting KC at LAFC - Sept. 3, 2021

Sporting Kansas City (11-5-7, 40 points) suffered a 4-0 loss to Los Angeles FC (7-9-6, 27 points) on Friday at Banc of California Stadium, conceding three second half goals after a 58th minute red card left Sporting a man down for the second straight road match.

Manager Peter Vermes saw his team suffer only its second league loss of the summer, a span that includes 13 regular season games, and it came with midfielder Gadi Kinda and forward Daniel Salloi away on international duty. Newly signed midfielder Jose Mauri started in his Sporting KC debut, playing 68 minutes in his first action since arriving from Argentina.

Sporting Kansas City threatened to open the scoring in the 17th minute as club captain Johnny Russell cut inside from the right flank and curled a shot from the edge of the penalty area just beyond the far post, but it was the home side -- shorthanded themselves with international absences and key players out due to injury -- that delivered the first dagger moments later.

Eighteen-year-old rookie Mamadou Fall came forward for a corner kick in the 18th minute and the 6'2 defender headed home the delivery from LAFC playmaker Eduard Atuesta, who featured alongside Salloi in last week's MLS All-Star Game on his home field. The goal was the first of Fall's professional career, and his first of two on the night. 

Boosted by the early lead, LAFC would twice come close to doubling their advantage in the 10 minutes following Fall's opener. Tim Melia made a superb save to deny Cal Jennings in the 23rd minute, dropping low to his right to get a hand on the attempt. Six minutes later, Bryce Duke lined up a long-range effort that was strongly struck from 30 yards out but whistled wide of the target.

Despite controlling nearly 62 percent of the possession away from home in the first half and outshooting LAFC 5-3 in the opening 45 minutes, Sporting was put into an all too familiar position with a 1-0 deficit for a 12th time in 2021 and matters were made worse in a controversial three-minute span early in the second stanza. 

In the 58th minute, Sporting KC were reduced to 10 men as Roger Espinoza was ejected by referee Drew Fischer after video review. Espinoza was whistled for a foul on Cristian Arango which, after warranting no card from Fischer initially, was subjected to review by Video Assistant Referee Ramy Touchan and was deemed worthy of a straight red card.

LAFC capitalized immediately and found a second goal in the same fashion as the first, albeit this time via a free kick dubiously awarded by Fischer. Atuesta once again provided a pinpoint pass onto the head of Fall at the back post for a well-placed finish from close range. Atuesta earned his team-leading sixth assist of the 2021 season with the set-piece service.

Down a player and down two goals, Sporting Kansas City nearly found a lifeline in the 65th minute. Russell did brilliantly to beat his man on the dribble only to be thwarted on the doorstep as LAFC goalkeeper Tomas Romero came off his line to make a sliding save.

Melia made two impressive saves of his own - first with his foot in the 66th minute on an attempt by Arango and then in the 74th minute to deny Danny Musovski -- however LAFC ultimately put the game out of reach with a goal from Arango in the 71st minute before the hosts capped off the performance with a penalty from Atuesta in the 87th minute. 

Sporting refused to go quietly despite the scoreline and circumstances. After having a goal disallowed in the 80th minute when Ilie was flagged for offside prior to volleying Russell's free kick into the back of the net, Alan Pulido nearly provided a late consolation goal in the 90th minute and Graham Zusi forced a final save from Romero in the 94th minute.

Still second in the West, Sporting will return home to host Chicago Fire FC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, Sept. 11 at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets for the cross-conference clash are available online at SeatGeek.com.

2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 23
Banc of California Stadium | Los Angeles, California
Attendance: 22,018
Weather: 69 degrees and partly cloudy

Sporting KC 0-0 Los Angeles FC
Score
1
2
F
Sporting Kansas City (11-5-7, 40 points)
0
0
0
Los Angeles FC (7-9-6, 27 points)
1
3
4

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Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ilie Sanchez, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins; Jose Mauri (Cam Duke 68'), Roger Espinoza, Remi Walter; Johnny Russell (C), Alan Pulido, Khiry Shelton
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Amadou Dia, Roberto Puncec, Kaveh Rad, Jake Davis, Grayson Barber, Wilson Harris

Los Angeles FC: Tomas Romero; Mamadou Fall, Sebastien Ibeagha, Raheem Edwards, Jesus Murillo (Jordan Harvey 88'); Latif Blessing, Francisco Ginella, Bryce Duke (Marco Farfan 88'), Eduard Atuesta (C), Cristian Arango (Daniel Crisostomo 80'); Cal Jennings (Danny Musovski 46')
Subs Not Used: Pablo Sisniega

Scoring Summary:
LAFC - Mamadou Fall 1 (Eduard Atuesta 5) 18’
LAFC - Mamadou Fall 2 (Eduard Atuesta 6) 61'
LAFC - Cristian Arango 2 (Danny Musovski 2, Bryce Duke 1) 71'
LAFC - Eduard Atuesta 2 (penalty kick) 87'

Misconduct Summary:
LAFC - Sebastian Ibeagha (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 41'
SKC - Roger Espinoza (red card; serious foul play) 58'
LAFC - Bryce Duke (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 77'
LAFC - Danny Musovski (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 79'
SKC - Tim Melia (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 85'

Match Statistics
Stat
SKC
LAFC
Shots
9
15
Shots on Goal
4
8
Saves
4
4
Fouls
5
15
Offsides
2
3
Corner Kicks
1
3

Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referee: Frank Anderson
Assistant Referee: Eduardo Mariscal
Fourth Official: Brandon Stevis
VAR: Ramy Touchan
AVAR: Fabio Tovar

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