Match Recap

Recap: Second-half goals help Sporting to thrilling 2-2 draw at LA Galaxy

Sporting Kansas City (8-15-6, 30 points) erased an early deficit with second-half goals from Johnny Russell and Felipe Hernandez to secure a thrilling 2-2 draw against the LA Galaxy (11-11-6, 39 points) on Sunday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

The Galaxy drew first blood through Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who later made the score 2-2 with a finish from the penalty spot, but Sporting rallied behind Russell’s 67th-minute penalty kick and a deflected finish from Hernandez in the 76th. Sporting goalkeeper John Pulskmap then provided late-game heroics, saving Chicharito's 97th-minute penalty to seal a hard-earned road result as Manager Peter Vermes set a league record by participating in his 663rd MLS match as a player or a coach.

Sporting are now unbeaten in their last four meetings against the Galaxy—who sit three points below the playoff line—and have scored multiple goals in four of their last five matches since the start of August, with the club going 3-1-1 during that stretch. Vermes’ side will now prepare for another important road fixture against Houston Dynamo FC, slated for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on 38 The Spot, the Sporting KC app and

Minor injuries to veteran defenders Sweat and Graham Zusi prompted Sporting to make two lineup changes from last weekend’s 1-0 home win over the Portland Timbers, with 22-year-old left back Logan Ndenbe and 19-year-old right back Kayden Pierre joining the backline.

The hosts needed just four minutes to find their breakthrough, taking a 1-0 lead through an in-form Chicharito. Newly acquired Spanish midfielder Riqui Puig played an incisive forward pass to Victor Vazquez, who took a settling touch and squeezed a through ball into the path of the longtime Mexican international. Chicharito made no mistake from there, hammering past goalkeeper John Pulskamp and into the left corner for his team-best 13th goal of the year, his sixth in as many games and the 200th strike of his storied club career.

Sporting briefly thought they had drawn level seven minutes later when Remi Walter’s long-range piledriver fizzed through traffic, deflected off the foot of teammate Willy Agada and nestled into the net, but Agada was flagged offside and the goal was disallowed.

A week removed from bagging the decisive match-winner against Portland, Sporting winger Daniel Salloi was next to threaten at the half-hour juncture by lacing a 22-yard strike marginally wide of the right post. Not long later, a clever combination involving Pierre and Roger Espinoza down the right flank culminated with a cross that skipped to Thommy, who uncorked an admirable volley attempt that narrowly missed the mark.

The visitors continued to gain a foothold and went close to restoring parity in the 39th minute. Russell found a pocket of space on the left wing and swung a probing cross into the box for the leaping Agada, who planted his header over the crossbar at a tough angle.

Thommy remained Sporting’s chief orchestrater in the second half, having a shot blocked before picking out Ndenbe with a cheeky ball into the box in the 55th minute. Puig saw his 24-yard belter scream wide at the opposite end prior to Agada nodding wide off an Espinoza cross in the 57th.

A growing nuisance for the Galaxy defense, Agada went agonizingly close to scoring what would have been a goal of the year contender near the hour mark. The 22-year-old Nigerian did brilliantly adjusting to Salloi’s in-swinging cross midflight and sent a laudable bicycle kick effort inches wide of the left-hand post, much to the relief of rooted Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.

Vermes’ men conjured a deserved equalizer from the penalty spot in the 67th minute. Russell exploited space on the left channel and barreled into the box before pulling the ball back to Walter, whose blocked shot struck the outstretched hand of LA defender Derrick Williams. Referee Ramy Touchan swiftly pointed to the spot and Russell delivered from there, powering home a penalty that trickled over the goal line after the diving Bond touched the ball onto his left post. The play gave Russell a team-leading 10 goals in all competitions and 53 goals in his Sporting career, passing Davy Arnaud for third place on the club’s all-time charts.

Brimming with momentum, Sporting surged ahead as Hernandez made a palpable impact from off the bench. With 76 minutes on the clock, Agada dropped into midfield and received a pass with his back to goal. He held off a defender, kept possession, turned his right shoulder and played a ball down field to Hernandez, who had acres of room to gallop goalward as a flurry of LA defenders desperately retreated. Hernandez entered the penalty area, cut centrally and smashed a strike off Julian Araujo and past Bond for his second goal of the MLS campaign and his fourth of the year in all competitions.

Not to be outdone, Puig showcased his undeniable skill by scurrying past and around a slew of Sporting players and slipping an inch-perfect 35-yard through ball into the path of Kevin Cabral, who went down easily under Pulskamp’s challenge. Touchan awarded a penalty kick and Chicharito duly finished from 12 yards, notching his second brace against Sporting this season after scoring twice in LA’s 4-2 loss at Children’s Mercy Park on Aug. 6.

The dying embers of a delicately poised contest provided pulsating end-to-end action, with Russell curling a breakaway shot inches wide of the far post in the 93rd minute.

VAR then gave the Galaxy a gift, as Touchan went to the replay monitor and deemed Pierre’s innocuous touch inside the box as a handball infraction. Chicharito stepped forward with hopes of sealing three points and a hat trick, clipping a floated Panenka attempt straight down the middle. Unfooled by his opponent's trickery, Pulskamp stood his ground and made an easy catch for his first career penalty stop at the MLS level, ensuring split points and a wild 2-2 stalemate between the MLS originals.

2022 MLS Regular Season | Match 29
Dignity Health Sports Park | Carson, California
Attendance: 20,104
Weather: 83 degrees and sunny

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 LA Galaxy
Sporting Kansas City 2-2 LA Galaxy
Sporting Kansas City (8-15-6, 30 points)
LA Galaxy (11-11-6, 39 points)

Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Kayden Pierre, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Andreu Fontas, Logan Ndenbe; Remi Walter, Roger Espinoza (Felipe Hernandez 64'), Erik Thommy (Uri Rosell 73'); Johnny Russell (C), Willy Agada, Daniel Salloi (Khiry Shelton 89')

Subs Not Used: Kendall McIntosh, Kaveh Rad, Robert Voloder, Cam Duke, Marinos Tzionis

LA Galaxy: Jonathan Bond; Julian Araujo (Martin Caceres 85'), Sega Coulibaly, Derrick Williams, Raheem Edwards; Marky Delgado (Kevin Cabral 85'), Gaston Brugman (Douglas Costa 71'), Riqui Puig, Victor Vazquez (Sacha Kljestan 59'); Javier Hernandez (C), Dejan Joveljic (Samuel Grandsir 71')

Subs Not Used: Jonathan Klinsmann, Chase Gasper, Kelvin Leerdam, Efrain Alvarez

Scoring Summary:
LA -- Javier Hernandez 13 (Victor Vazquez 4, Riqui Puig 2) 4'
SKC -- Johnny Russell 8 (penalty kick) 67'
SKC -- Felipe Hernandez 2 (Willy Agada 2) 76'
LA -- Javier Hernandez 14 (penalty kick) 88'

Misconduct Summary:
LA -- Raheem Edwards (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 42'
SKC -- Remi Walter (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 84'

Match Statistics
Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referee: Kevin Klinger
Assistant Referee: Ian McKay
Fourth Official: Greg Dopka
VAR: Carol Anne Chenard
AVAR: Craig Lowry