Match Recap

Recap: Sporting settles for 1-1 tie in home opener against Philadelphia

Sporting Kansas City (0-0-2, 2 points) battled the Philadelphia Union (0-0-2, 2 points) to a 1-1 draw in Saturday’s home opener at Children’s Mercy Park. Remi Walter fired the hosts ahead with a sublime strike in the first half, but Alejandro Bedoya salvaged a last-gasp Philadelphia equalizer in the 95th minute to split the points.

The earliest regular season home match in Sporting history saw Manager Peter Vermes deploy an unchanged lineup from last weekend’s 1-1 stalemate in Houston. Veteran goalkeeper Tim Melia logged his 250th MLS appearance for the club, center back Andreu Fontas played his 350th match as a professional, and captain Johnny Russell eclipsed 550 matches in his heralded pro career.

Russell contributed to Sporting’s early dominance and almost lifted his team ahead inside three minutes, dashing onto Jakes Davis’ inch-perfect pass down the right channel and forcing a kick save from Union goalkeeper Oliver Semmle. Not long later, Vermes’ men appeared to have taken the lead when Daniel Salloi’s delectable through ball found Erik Thommy, who then crossed low to Alan Pulido for a crisp finish near the penalty spot. The offside flag was raised on Thommy, however, and Sporting’s celebrations were cut short.

There was no questioning the validity or quality of Walter’s go-ahead goal in the 19th minute. Following a brilliant passing sequence that involved touches from nine of Sporting’s 10 field players, Davis played centrally to Sporting’s 28-year-old Frenchman at the top of the box. Walter made no mistake from there, sending a sensational left-footed curler off the post and into the back of the net. The midfielder also scored in Kansas City’s 2022 home opener—a 1-0 win over Houston—and has now become the first Sporting player to score in multiple home openers at Children’s Mercy Park since the stadium opened in 2011.

Thommy prompted Semmle to make another save near the half-hour mark before Sporting threatened again on the stroke of halftime. Salloi cut centrally and unleashed a drive that Semmle dropped low to repel into the path of an outstretched Russell, who was unable to put his rebound effort on frame.

Fielding a rotated team with Tuesday’s Concacaf Champions Cup match against Pachuca on the horizon, Philadelphia made three notable substitutions at halftime as Bedoya, Daniel Gazdag and Kai Wagner entered the fray. The visitors found their foothold in the first quarter-hour of the second period, with Melia saving a shot from Bedoya and Gazdag pelting a long-range volley marginally wide.

The final minutes of the game unfolded in breathless fashion. In the space of 60 seconds, Salloi had a shot saved on the counterattack at one end before Sporting defender Tim Leibold intervened crucially for a clearance in his own box that caromed off the woodwork and nearly resulted in an own goal.

Shortly thereafter, Davis performed a textbook slide tackle at midfield to win possession and carried the ball goalward before spreading it right to Russell, who was again thwarted by Semmle from a tight angle. At the opposite end, Union substitute Markus Anderson planted a bouncing header inches wide.

Controversy marred the dying embers of the match. With 94 minutes played, Philadelphia was erroneously awarded a throw-in that should have gone to Sporting. The Union entered the ball back in play and quickly won a corner kick, which led to the equalizing goal. Wagner’s in-swinging delivery was punched away by Melia only as far as Bedoya, who slotted a first-time shot into the roof of the net to restore parity at 1-1—much to the chagrin of 19,942 fans at sold-out Children’s Mercy Park.

Sporting will now look ahead to a challenging trip to Western Conference heavyweights LAFC (1-1-0, 3 points) next Saturday, March 9. Kickoff is set for 9:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV.

2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 2
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 19,942
Weather: 65 degrees and clear

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Philadelphia Union
Sporting Kansas City (0-0-2, 2 points)
Philadelphia Union (0-0-2, 2 points)

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Andreu Fontas, Tim Leibold; Nemanja Radoja, Remi Walter, Erik Thommy (Memo Rodriguez 80'); Johnny Russell (C), Alan Pulido (Willy Agada 80'), Daniel Salloi (Stephen Afrifa 87')

Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Zorhan Bassong, Robert Castellanos, Robert Voloder, Felipe Hernandez, Alenis Vargas

Philadelphia Union: Oliver Semmle; Olivier Mbaizo (Kai Wagner 46'), Jack Elliott (C), Damion Lowe, Nathan Harriel; Jose Martinez (Alejandro Bedoya 46'), Jesus Bueno, Jack McGlynn (Markus Anderson 82'), Jeremy Rafanello (Daniel Gazdag 46'); Chris Donovan (Mikael Uhre 57'), Quinn Sullivan

Subs Not Used: Andrew Rick, Jakob Glesnes, Matt Real, Tai Baribo

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Remi Walter 1 (Jake Davis 1) 19'
PHI -- Alejandro Bedoya 1 (unassisted) 90+5'

Misconduct Summary:
PHI -- Alejandro Bedoya (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 49'
PHI -- Damion Lowe (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 58'
SKC -- Johnny Russell (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 90+3'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Rafael Bonilla
Assistant Referee: Albert Escovar
Assistant Referee: Salvador Reyes
Fourth Official: Atahan Yaya
VAR: Greg Barkey