Match Recap

Recap: Sporting falls late in 3-2 loss to LA Galaxy

Sporting Kansas City (1-1-3, 6 points) surrendered a two-goal lead for the club’s first loss of 2024 in a 3-2 setback to the LA Galaxy (2-0-3, 9 points) on Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park.

In a wild battle between unbeaten Western Conference teams, Sporting rode a dominant first half to a 2-0 cushion behind goals from Nemanja Radoja and Willy Agada. However, the Galaxy struck back in the late stages with three goals in a fatal eight-minute span that gave LA just its second win in Kansas City in 16 years.

Manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the Sporting lineup from last weekend’s 2-1 home win over San Jose. After recovering from a minor ankle problem, Remi Walter returned in place of injured midfielder Memo Rodriguez, while Agada entered for injured captain Johnny Russell. The new-look XI was deployed in a 4-2-3-1 formation with fellow striker Alan Pulido underneath Agada, marking the first time the duo had started together for Sporting. Between the posts, goalkeeper Tim Melia notably tied current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin for fifth in club history with his 237th regular season start.

The hosts threatened thrice within the first 12 minutes as Daniel Salloi—making his 57th straight regular season start, the fifth longest such streak in club history—curled a shot inches over the bar before Agada and Pulido forced saves from LA goalkeeper John McCarthy, the latter with an acrobatic bicycle kick attempt.

Radoja fired Sporting ahead in the 34th minute. After the Galaxy failed to clear a searching ball into the box off a short corner kick, Salloi settled into possession on the left edge of the penalty area and centered the ball low into the path of Radoja, who slotted past McCarthy at point-blank range for his first professional goal since Nov. 2, 2019 when he scored for Levante in a Spanish La Liga win over Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona. Radoja almost added a second goal five minutes later but planted his header a foot high off another set piece delivery.

Sporting laid siege on the Galaxy goal in the final moments of the first half and were duly rewarded on the brink of intermission. A minute after Agada had a shot deflect marginally wide, the Nigerian opened his 2024 scoring account with a pinpoint finish into the left corner off Salloi’s teasing cross from the left wing. Agada bagged the 50th goal of his professional career on the play and now has 10 goals in 10 regular season home starts at Children’s Mercy Park since his arrival to Kansas City in 2022. Salloi, meanwhile, recorded the fifth multi-assist game of his MLS regular season career.

Vermes’ men had multiple opportunities to kill the game off early in the second period, with Pulido narrowly missing the mark twice and McCarthy producing a big save to deny Agada on the doorstep after Erik Thommy had done well to deliver a low pullback pass from the endline.

The game turned south for Sporting at the 72-minute mark. Seconds after Melia produced a brilliant fingertip save to thwart LA striker Dejan Joveljic, the Galaxy cashed in on a set piece that Sporting was unable to clear. The ball pinballed around the penalty area and fell to the thankful foot of defender Eriq Zavaleta, who bundled a shot into the right corner to cut LA’s deficit in half.

The Galaxy restored parity three minutes later, and some 60 seconds after seeing Joveljic have a goal disallowed for an offside infraction. This time the goal stood as the forward received an incisive through ball from Riqui Puig and finished past Melia for his league-leading fifth goal of the season, becoming the second player in MLS history to score goals in each of the first five games of a regular season.

LA completed its rally in the 80th minute when Mark Delgado drove home a low cross from newcomer Gabriel Pec. Although the strike was initially disallowed for offside, VAR Shawn Tehini prompted referee Aleksandar Zhelyazkov to take a second look and the goal was given to make the score 3-2.

Sporting will look to bounce back next Saturday, March 30, with a trip north of the border to face Toronto FC (3-1-1, 10 points) at BMO Field. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV.

2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 5
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 18,102
Weather: 46 degrees and overcast

Sporting Kansas City 2-3 LA Galaxy
Sporting Kansas City (1-1-3, 6 points)
LA Galaxy (2-0-3, 9 points)

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Robert Voloder, Tim Leibold; Remi Walter, Nemanja Radoja; Erik Thommy, Alan Pulido (C), Daniel Salloi (Stephen Afrifa 83'); Willy Agada

Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Zorhan Bassong, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Chris Rindov, Danny Flores, Felipe Hernandez, Marinos Tzionis

LA Galaxy: John McCarthy; Miki Yamane, Eriq Zavaleta, Maya Yoshida (C), Julian Aude; Mark Delgado, Edwin Cerrillo (Gaston Brugman 62'); Joseph Paintsil, Riqui Puig, Gabriel Pec (Diego Fagundez 83'); Dejan Joveljic (Miguel Berry 83')

Subs Not Used: Novak Micovic, Mauricio Cuevas, John Nelson, Daniel Aguirre, Jonathan Perez, Mauricio Cuevas

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Nemanja Radoja 1 (Daniel Salloi 1) 34'
SKC -- Willy Agada 1 (Daniel Salloi 2) 45+3'
LA -- Eriq Zavaleta 1 (unassisted) 72'
LA -- Dejan Joveljic 5 (Riqui Puig 1) 75'
LA -- Mark Delgado 1 (Gabriel Pec 1) 80'

Misconduct Summary:
SKC -- Erik Thommy (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 53'
SKC -- Tim Leibold (yellow card; time wasting) 69'
LA -- Gaston Brugman (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 88'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Aleksandar Zhelyazkov
Assistant Referee: Wilmer Soriano
Assistant Referee: Douglas Clayton
Fourth Official: DeShun Beard
VAR: Shawn Tehini