Sporting Kansas City (2-8-4, 10 points) suffered a 4-0 defeat in the club’s inaugural meeting with rivals St. Louis City SC (7-4-1, 22 points) on Saturday night at Citypark in St. Louis. The hosts struck twice in both halves with Indiana Vassilev notching a brace to go with goals from Eduard Lowen and Niko Gioacchini.
With a breathless stretch of five matches in 14 days in the rearview, Sporting will rest and recover ahead of a home game against the Portland Timbers next Sunday, May 28. Kickoff at Children’s Mercy Park is set for 2 p.m. CT with tickets available at SeatGeek.com and live coverage on FOX and MLS Season Pass via Apple TV.
Peter Vermes made three changes to Sporting’s lineup from a 1-1 draw at LAFC on Wednesday, bringing in new starters at both outside back positions while also swapping out Designated Players in the attacking midfield role. Veteran Graham Zusi reprised his right back role and Tim Leibold returned at left back, logging his first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury on March 11. Further up the pitch, Gadi Kinda replaced Erik Thommy, who had previously started all 13 regular season matches this year.
An electric atmosphere at Citypark provided the perfect setting for a battle that saw St. Louis threaten first in the fifth minute. Winger Jared Stroud squeezed his way past a pair of defenders on the edge of the area, benefited from a fortuitous bounce of the ball and had his shot from near the penalty spot saved impressively by outstretched Sporting goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh. Not long later, Lowen’s low drive from distance fizzed marginally wide of the left post.
At the opposite end, Sporting conjured a chance of their own in the 14th minute. Remi Walter—earning his 56th consecutive regular season start—won an aerial challenge that teed up forward Alan Pulido for a shot at the top of the box, but his deflected effort was cast aside by St. Louis keeper Roman Burki.
The hosts pushed ahead in the 19th minute when Lowen buried his penalty kick after Sporting midfielder Nemanja Radoja was penalized for a foul on Vassilev inside the box. It was Lowen’s third goal of the campaign and the fourth penalty conceded by Sporting this season, the most in MLS.
Sporting’s problems were compounded in the 25th minute as Vassilev bagged his first goal of the year, pushing the scoreline to 2-0. Jared Stroud created a turnover in a dangerous area and slipped a pass to the 22-year-old attacking midfielder, who took a touch left and dragged a shot across McIntosh into the right corner.
McIntosh spared Sporting’s blushes in the 34th minute, sprawling low for a near-post save to deny Gioacchini. Shortly thereafter, Sporting captain Johnny Russell swung in a corner kick that was nodded goalward by defender Dany Rosero and saved comfortably by Burki.
Left back Logan Ndenbe entered as a halftime substitute for Sporting and wasted little time making an impact. His looping cross from the wing found a leaping Russell at the far post, but Burki did well to save the captain’s header on 52 minutes. Pulido later combined with Walter inside the penalty area, but the latter’s shot skied over the crossbar.
Sporting’s strong start to the second half was nullified in the 55th minute. Gioacchini, a Kansas City native, raced free on the breakaway following a goal kick—latching onto Stroud’s decisive pass in behind the defense—and coolly finished past McIntosh for his fourth goal of the year.
Further frustration greeted Sporting in the 74th minute when Russell’s well-struck effort from 15 yards was saved by the diving Burki. And with momentum on their side, St. Louis added a fourth goal seconds later as Vassilev finished a sweeping counterattack with a curler into the far left corner for his second tally of the game.
Burki added gloss to his standout performance by producing a stunning save to deny Sporting substitute Marinos Tzionis in the 85th minute. The German added another stop a minute later, touching Pulido’s lunging strike over the bar.
2023 MLS Regular Season | Match 14
Citypark | St. Louis, Missouri
Weather: 65 degrees and clear
Sporting Kansas City (2-8-4, 10 points)
St. Louis City SC (7-4-1, 22 points)
Sporting Kansas City: Kendall McIntosh; Graham Zusi (Jake Davis 63'), Dany Rosero, Andreu Fontas, Tim Leibold (Logan Ndenbe 46'); Nemanja Radoja, Remi Walter (Roger Espinoza 77'), Gadi Kinda (Erik Thommy 46'); Johnny Russell (C) (Marinos Tzionis 77'), Alan Pulido, Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Chris Rindov, Felipe Hernandez, Stephen Afrifa
St. Louis City SC: Roman Burki (C); Jake Nerwinski, Lucas Bartlett, Tim Parker, Kyle Hiebert; Njabulo Blom (Miguel Perez 78'), Eduard Lowen (John Klein 78'); Jared Stroud (Tomas Ostrak 69'), Indiana Vassilev, Celio Pompeu; Niko Gioacchini (Aziel Jackson 88')
Subs Not Used: Ben Lundt, Jonathan Bell, Selmir Pidro, Josh Yaro, Isak Jensen
STL -- Eduard Lowen 3 (penalty kick) 19'
STL -- Indiana Vassilev 1 (Jared Stroud 3) 25'
STL -- Niko Gioacchini 4 (Jared Stroud 4) 55'
STL -- Indiana Vassilev 2 (Tomas Ostrak 2) 74'
SKC -- Gadi Kinda (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 28'
STL -- Jake Nerwinski (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 30'
SKC -- Daniel Salloi (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 42'
Shots on Goal
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistant Referee: Cameron Blanchard
Assistant Referee: Ryan Graves
Fourth Official: Jeffrey Swartzel
VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero
AVAR: Kaili Terry