Daniel Salloi’s early strike was enough to give Sporting Kansas City (8-15-5, 29 points) a deserved 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes (6-12-9, 27 points) on Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

By slotting home in the 10th minute, Salloi moved into a tie atop Sporting’s all-time charts with his 13th game-winning goal in the regular season. The much-needed result—which saw goalkeeper John Pulskamp make four saves en route to his first shutout of the 2022 MLS campaign—also lifted Sporting to within seven points of playoff position in the Western Conference and pushed Kansas City’s record against San Jose to 8-1-5 in the last 14 meetings across all competitions.

Winners in three of their last four matches, Sporting will carry palpable momentum into next weekend when they travel to face longtime rivals LA Galaxy (10-11-4, 34 points) on Sunday, Sept. 4. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT with live coverage on 38 The Spot, the Sporting KC app and SportingKC.com.

Taking the field for their 1,000th competitive match in club history, Sporting deployed the same lineup for the fourth straight game—a rare instance that last happened in May 2017. Manager Peter Vermes also hit a major milestone by participating in his 662nd MLS match as a player or a coach, tying Jason Kreis for most in the league’s 27-year existence. 

The Earthquakes wasted a golden opportunity to draw first blood inside five minutes, dashing free on a quickfire counterattack only for Jeremy Ebobisse to drag his right-footed shot wide on the breakaway. Sporting then threatened on the opposite end a few minutes later when veteran midfielder Roger Espinoza uncorked a long-range blast that fizzed over the crossbar by a matter of inches. 

Espinoza’s near miss was a warning sign for San Jose, which fell behind 1-0 when Salloi landed the game’s first punch. The 26-year-old winger started his own scoring move by spraying a ball down the left channel for Erik Thommy, who evaded his marker, accelerated into the final third and slipped a clever through ball to Espinoza. His low cross was cut out by the sliding Paul Marie, but Salloi was well positioned to coolly poke home the rebound for his sixth league goal of the season and his 47th career Sporting goal in all competitions, passing Josh Wolff for fifth most in Kansas City history.

An end-to-end spectacle continued to unfold in satisfying manner and Sporting had Pulskamp to thank in the 15th minute for keeping San Jose at bay. Graham Zusi’s diagonal pass in his own penalty area was intercepted by Cristian Espinoza, who took a touch before firing goalward, but Pulskamp produced an outstanding reflex stop to deny the Earthquakes winger. Sporting’s gloveman was involved once more at the half-hour juncture, diving left to cast aside Jan Gregus’ 25-yard piledriver.

Not long later, Sporting captain Johnny Russell powered his way along the right endline and clipped a ball across the face of goal to Willy Agada, whose leaping header narrowly missed the target. Thommy was next to go close in the 27th minute, settling Zusi’s feed and cutting centrally from the left edge of the box before curling an audacious effort just wide of the far post.

Dissatisfied with their halftime advantage, Sporting sought to inflict more damage after the restart and nearly did so in the 46th minute. Remi Walter’s 30-yard missile forced San Jose keeper JT Marcinkowski into a palmed save and yet another stop on the rebound as Sporting midfielder Felipe Hernandez—who replaced Espinoza at the break—was first to pounce on the loose ball inside the box. 

The hosts remained on the front foot in the 54th minute when Thommy’s corner kick was nodded by Russell into the path of Agada, whose close-range attempt was blocked through traffic. On Sporting’s ensuing possession, second-half substitute Logan Ndenbe tried his luck from distance with a well-struck effort that lacked the precision to beat Marcinkowski.

Sporting center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin thought he had opened his regular season scoring account in the 58th minute when he latched onto Zusi’s inch-perfect diagonal delivery and slotted past Marcinkowski on the doorstep. The goal was initially given, but VAR intervened and referee Guido Gonzales Jr. deemed Isimat-Mirin to be in an offside position, keeping the scoreline at 1-0.

Undeterred by the close call, Sporting kept knocking on the door and almost doubled their lead in the 62nd minute when Thommy embarked on a dazzling solo run and hammered a shot that deflected low and behind for a corner kick. On the ensuing play, Thommy had San Jose on the backfoot once more by slicing past a defender and seeing another low low shot smothered by Marcinkowski.

Thommy continued to shine as a centerpiece of Sporting’s attack, drawing awes from the crowd in the 73rd minute with an admirable bicycle kick that Marcinkowski saved from a tight angle.

San Jose struggled to generate momentum going forward, but the visitors did conjure a scare in the 82nd minute off a set piece when Ebobisse pelted a free kick inches beyond the far left post. Sporting would hold on from there, seeing out the result to jump from 14th place to 12th in the West.

2022 MLS Regular Season | Match 28
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 18,241
Weather: 87 degrees and mostly cloudy

Sporting Kansas City 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes
Score
1
2
F
Sporting Kansas City (8-15-5, 29 points)
1
0
1
San Jose Earthquakes (6-12-9, 27 points)
0
0
0

Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Graham Zusi, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Andreu Fontas, Ben Sweat (Logan Ndenbe 54'); Remi Walter, Roger Espinoza (Felipe Hernandez 46'), Erik Thommy (Cam Duke 90+4'); Johnny Russell (C) (Marinos Tzionis 90+3'), Willy Agada, Daniel Salloi (Khiry Shelton 79')

Subs Not Used: Kendall McIntosh, Kayden Pierre, Robert Voloder, Uri Rosell

San Jose Earthquakes: JT Marcinkowski; Tommy Thompson (Jack Skahan 81'), Oskar Agren, Tanner Beason, Paul Marie (Shea Salinas 81'); Jackson Yueill (C), Jan Gregus (Niko Tsakiris 73'); Cristian Espinoza, Jamiro Monteiro, Benji Kikanovic (Cade Cowell 65'); Jeremy Ebobisse

Subs Not Used: Matt Bersano, Judson, Eric Remedi, Will Richmond

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 6 (unassisted) 10'

Misconduct Summary:
SKC -- Ben Sweat (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 42'
SKC -- Willy Agada (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 45'
SJ -- Tanner Beason (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 57'
SKC -- Andreu Fontas (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 88'
SJ -- Oskar Agren (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 90+1'

Match Statistics
Stat
SKC
SJ
Shots
18
11
Shots on Goal
8
4
Saves
4
7
Fouls
15
14
Offsides
2
1
Corner Kicks
4
2

Referee: Guido Gonzales Jr.
Assistant Referee: Diego Blas
Assistant Referee: Tyler Wyrostek
Fourth Official: Malik Badawi
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert