Match Recap

Recap: Sporting stays unbeaten with 2-1 comeback win over San Jose

Sporting Kansas City (1-0-3, 6 points) overcame an early deficit to prevail 2-1 over the San Jose Earthquakes (0-4-0) on Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

Dany Rosero’s thumping header in the 18th minute and Alan Pulido’s go-ahead goal 11 minutes later sealed the comeback for a Sporting side that remained undefeated through four games in 2024 and condemned San Jose to its fourth straight defeat to open the campaign. Kansas City has now prevailed in 20 of its last 22 home meetings against the Earthquakes since 2004 while also delivering its longest unbeaten streak to start a regular season since 2017 (six matches).

Manager Peter Vermes’ men will return to Children’s Mercy Park next Saturday, March 23, for a marquee matchup with longtime rival LA Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the contest are available at

Center back Robert Voloder accounted for the lone change to Sporting’s lineup from a 0-0 draw at LAFC last weekend, replacing injured defender Andreu Fontas for his first home start since June 10, 2023. Further up the field, captain Johnny Russell hit a major milestone with his 200th appearance for Sporting in all competitions and thus became the third MLS player to log 200 matches with multiple clubs worldwide, having played 203 times for Derby County in England from 2013-2018. Notable markers were also in store for Rosero—who made the 350th appearance of his club career—and midfielder Erik Thommy, who played his 50th regular season game in a Sporting uniform.

Seeking their first win in Kansas City since 2015, the Earthquakes began brightly and took the lead on 11 minutes. Sporting defender Jake Davis—making his 31st consecutive start in all competitions—slid in brilliantly to prevent a driven Preston Judd cross from reaching Amahl Pellegrino at the back post, but Cristian Espinoza’s ensuing corner kick was bundled home by Vitor Costa at close range to quiet the Children’s Mercy Park faithful and give Sporting its first deficit of the season.

Sporting’s response was nothing short of superb. Earthquakes goalkeeper Daniel dove at full extension to repel a 22-yard bomb from Pulido in the 17th minute, but the hosts returned the favor on San Jose by cashing in on the corner kick that followed. Memo Rodriguez’s in-swinging delivery was nodded into the roof of the net by a leaping Rosero, who has now bagged four of Sporting’s seven headed goals since joining the club in early 2023. Rodriguez, meanwhile, tabbed his first assist in a Sporting uniform and the 17th of his MLS career.

Still unsatiated after pulling level, Sporting surged ahead just shy of the half-hour mark. A flowing attack into the final third saw Russell square up his marker on the right wing, play a sweet give-and-go with Davis and dink a pullback ball into the path of an unmarked Pulido, who opened his 2024 scoring account by smashing into the gaping net. Pulido, who last scored at Children’s Mercy Park with a brace in a 2-1 win over St. Louis on Sept. 2, 2023, now ranks first in club history with 0.45 goals per match in the regular season (29 goals in 65 games).

An entertaining first half continued to ebb and flow with both sides showing attacking ambition. San Jose almost restored parity in the 37th minute, but Melia produced a fine save to cast aside Espinoza’s well-struck free kick. Melia thwarted Espinoza once more by corralling a shot from the top of the box on the cusp of intermission.

Less than 30 seconds into the second half, San Jose went incredibly close to punishing a Sporting miscue as Pellegrino picked up a stray pass and attempted to round Melia one-on-one, only to see his shot saved heroically by Kansas City’s in-form goalkeeper.

Sporting suffered a setback in the 53rd minute when Russell was forced to exit with an injury, summoning the arrival of substitute Stephen Afrifa. The swap came shortly before Salloi and San Jose’s Jeremy Ebobisse saw their admirable long-range efforts go begging. Vermes’ side then breathed a collective sigh of relief in the 70th minute when Ousseni Bouda’s cross from the right wing deflected off the outstretched foot of Nemanja Radoja and into the thankful hands of Melia.

The final flashbulb moment of the night came with 82 minutes on the clock. The Earthquakes thought they had equalized on yet another set piece goal as Rodriguez fired high past Melia from the edge of the six-yard area. However, VAR Ian Anderson prompted referee Amin Hadzic to take a second look at the play, and the goal was rightly disallowed for a Vitor Costa handball after Espinoza swung a dangerous free kick into the crowded box.

The Earthquakes conjured one final scare four minutes into second-half stoppage time, but Benji Kikanovic’s swiveling strike took a wicked deflection off Rosero and skipped marginally wide of the frame. Hadzic blew his full-time whistle two minutes later as Sporting secured its first victory of 2024 after opening the season with three ties.

2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 4
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 18,219
Weather: 56 degrees and clear

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes
Sporting Kansas City (1-0-3, 6 points)
San Jose Earthquakes (0-4-0, 0 points)

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Robert Voloder, Tim Leibold; Nemanja Radoja, Erik Thommy, Memo Rodriguez (Remi Walter 46'); Johnny Russell (C) (Stephen Afrifa 53'), Alan Pulido (Willy Agada 87'), Daniel Salloi (Alenis Vargas 88')

Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Zorhan Bassong, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Felipe Hernandez

San Jose Earthquakes: Daniel; Paul Marie (Thommy Thompson 85'), Bruno Wilson, Rodrigues, Vitor Costa; Cristian Espinoza, Jackson Yueill (C), Carlos Gruezo (Alfredo Morales 72'), Amahl Pellegrino (Jack Skahan 64'); Jeremy Ebobisse (Benji Kikanovic 63'), Preston Judd (Ousseni Bouda 64')

Subs Not Used: William Yarbrough, Tanner Beason, Daniel Munie, Michael Baldisimo

Scoring Summary:
SJ -- Vitor Costa 1 (Cristian Espinoza 1) 11'
SKC -- Dany Rosero 1 (Memo Rodriguez 1) 18'
SKC -- Alan Pulido 1 (Johnny Russell 1, Jake Davis 2) 29'

Misconduct Summary:
SKC -- Dany Rosero (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 35'
SJ -- Ousseni Bouda (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 66'
SJ -- Cristian Espinoza (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 81'
SKC -- Daniel Salloi (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 82'
SKC -- Erik Thommy (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 90+1'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Amin Hadzic
Assistant Referee: Hector Rueda
Assistant Referee: Shane Richards
Fourth Official: Dimitar Chavdarov
VAR: Ian Anderson