Match Recap

Recap: Sporting KC throttles Toronto FC in 3-1 road win

Sporting Kansas City (2-1-3, 9 points) earned an emphatic 3-1 road win at Toronto FC (3-2-1, 10 points) on Saturday with three second-half goals securing all three points to move the club up the Western Conference table.

Remi Walter opened the scoring with his second goal of the season before Jake Davis and Alenis Vargas each struck for the first goals of their MLS careers.

Playing without club captain Johnny Russell and Designated Player Alan Pulido against a Toronto FC defense that had conceded just twice all season - fewest in MLS - Sporting KC scored a season-high three goals to remain unbeaten in three road trips this year (1-0-2). The victory north of the border also keeps Sporting KC unbeaten in 11 straight regular season matches against Toronto (7-0-4) and in nine trips to BMO Field under Peter Vermes (5-0-4).

Meeting for the first time since 2019, the two sides wasted little time in creating chances during a lively first 10 minutes of an end-to-end first half. 

Daniel Salloi squeezed between two Toronto FC defenders inside the penalty area in the eighth minute only to have the ball taken off his foot by goalkeeper Luka Gavran near the penalty spot. The loose ball fell to Willy Agada at the top of the box whose first-time attempt was blocked at the edge of the six-yard box by Sigurd Rosted.

Less than a minute later, Gavran was called into action again to parry away a half volley from Nemanja Radoja who came close to scoring in back-to-back matches.

On the opposite end, Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia produced a superb save of his own in the 10th minute to deny Toronto FC playmaker Federico Bernardeschi. Matty Longstaff was poised to hammer home the rebound however his volley sailed over the bar from 10 yards out.

Robert Voloder did well to keep the match scoreless with a key block on Prince Owusu in the 32nd minute and from there, Sporting would threaten to break the deadlock on four separate occasions before the halftime intermission. Tim Leibold forced a strong save from Gavran from a tight angle in the 36th minute.

Just over a minute later, Gavran once again was at his best to keep out a header from Agada on a corner kick from Remi Walter. After scoring last week, the 24-year-old Agada nearly put his name on the scoresheet in the 41st minute with a thunderous strike that crashed into the crossbar.

Sporting Kansas City nearly found the breakthrough on the cusp of halftime with an opportunistic counter attack in the 44th minute through the team’s two outside backs. Davis played an early ball into the path of Leibold behind the Toronto backline only to see his chipped effort turned away by the outrushing Gavran.

After knocking on the door throughout the opening 45 minutes, Sporting Kansas City would strike for three unanswered goals in the second half on Saturday and it all began in the 57th minute. Radoja won the ball with an aerial challenge at midfield and Erik Thommy - playing in the 300th match of his professional career — carried the ball 50 yards forward before his cross was cutout by Kevin Long.

Walter settled the clearance and launched a left-footed laser into the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards out to put Sporting ahead. Playing in his 100th regular season match for Sporting KC, the 28-year-old Frenchman now has nine goals in all competitions since joining the club in 2021 while Thommy earned his 16th assist in all competitions.

Sporting Kansas City would double the lead in the 64th minute with Davis —who had scored four times for Sporting KC II in his career, but never at the MLS level — capping off a nine-pass scoring sequence, featuring touches by eight different players, in sublime fashion. The 22-year-old Sporting KC Academy product rifled a right-footed blast from 30 yards out that would prove to be the eventual game-winner. 

Leibold would be involved at either end of the field in a frantic five-minute span, first sliding with a timely intervention to block a point-blank shot from Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty in the 68th minute then nearly scoring in the 73rd minute if not for a kick save from Gavran to keep out the deflected cross.

The Toronto FC goalkeeper would come up clutch once more in the 82nd minute to thwart Vargas after an incisive 35-yard run forward into the area. Undeterred, the 20-year-old Honduran - who scored six goals for Sporting KC II last season and returned from his first callup to the Honduran National Team midweek - would make his mark moments later.

Playing his first touch past Shane O'Neill before racing around the Toronto FC defender, Vargas calmly slotted his shot past Gavran with his second touch to give Sporting KC - who had scored one second-half goal entering the match -- a third goal in a 30-minute span of the second half. Davis earned the assist and now leads the team with three assists on the season.

Toronto would spoil the shutout with just 10 seconds remaining in the seven minutes of second-half stoppage time as Jonathan Osorio - the club's captain and all-time appearance leader -- latched onto a cross from Marshall-Rutty for a late consolation goal.

The victory, Sporting's first against an Eastern Conference opponent since 2022, was the 37th regular season road win of Melia's career, breaking his tie with Luis Robles for 10th most in MLS history. In his 10th season with Sporting as the club’s longest tenured player, Melia also broke a tie with Sporting KC assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin for sole possession of fifth place on the club's all-time regular season games played chart on Saturday with his 238th appearance.

Sporting will return home to kick off a three-match homestand that begins with a Western Conference clash against the Portland Timbers at 12:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, April 7 at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets are available online at SeatGeek, including the Coca-Cola Friends & Family 4-Pack and the Wild West 5-Pack. The MLS Matchday 8 finale will be free to watch on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV in addition to national television broadcasts on FOX and FOX Deportes.

2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 6
BMO Field | Toronto, Canada
Attendance: 24,382
Weather: 43 degrees and cloudy

Sporting Kansas City 3-1 Toronto FC
Sporting Kansas City (2-1-3, 9 points)
Toronto FC (3-2-1, 10 points)

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Robert Voloder, Tim Leibold; Nemanja Radoja, Remi Walter, Memo Rodriguez (Felipe Hernandez 78'); Erik Thommy (Stephen Afrifa 90+6'), Willy Agada (Alenis Vargas 78'), Daniel Salloi (C)

Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Zorhan Bassong, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Marinos Tzionis

Toronto FC: Luka Gavran; Shane O'Neill, Kevin Long, Sigurd Rosted (Kosi Thompson 68'); Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Matty Longstaff (Deandre Kerr 68'), Alonso Coello (Deybi Flores 59'), Tyrese Spicer; Federico Bernardeschi, Jonathan Osorio (C); Prince Owusu (Ayo Akinola 86')

Subs Not Used: Aime Mabika, Cassisu Mailula, Greg Ranjitsingh, Kobe Franklin, Jordan Perruzza

Scoring Summary:
SKC - Remi Walter 2 (Erik Thommy 1) 57'
SKC - Jake Davis 1 (Willy Agada 1) 64'
SKC - Alenis Vargas 1 (Jake Davis 3) 83'
TOR - Jonathan Osorio 1 (Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 1) 90+7'

Misconduct Summary:
SKC - Jake Davis (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 44'
TOR - Alonso Coello (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 57'
SKC - Tim Leibold (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 71'
TOR - Jonathan Osorio (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 85'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Guido Gonzales Jr.
Assistant Referee: Lyes Arfa
Assistant Referee: Walt Heatherly
Fourth Official: Pierre-Luc Lauziere
VAR: Kevin Terry Jr.
AVAR: Fabio Tovar