Steven Lenhart vs Sporting KC

Recap: Streaking KC win 1-0 over San Jose

MLS Game #13
Friday, June 17, 2011, 7:30 p.m. CT
English TV: FOX Soccer
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM

LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather:  Partly cloudy, 84 degrees
Attendance: 18,467
Video: Match Highlights

Score:                                                                      1          2          F
Sporting Kansas City (3-6-4, 13 pts)                  1          0          0
San Jose Earthquakes (5-5-4, 19 pts)               0          0          0      

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Seth Sinovic, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Chance Myers; Birahim Diop, Luke Sassano (Julio Cesar 61), Davy Arnaud ©; Omar Bravo (Teal Bunbury 86), C.J. Sapong, Graham Zusi (Kei Kamara 63) 

Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Korede Aiyegbusi, Kevin Ellis, Michael Harrington 

San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch; Bobby Burling, Bobby Convey, Jason Hernandez, Steven Beitashour; Brad Ring, Sam Cronin (Simon Dawkins 46), Ramiro Corrales, Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Ellis McLoughlin 46) (Scott Sealy 89); Khari Stephenson, Steven Lenhart 

Subs not used: Andrew Weber, Joey Gjertsen, Chris Leitch, Brandon McDonald 

Stats:                            KC       SJ
Shots                              9          14
Shots on Goal               4          5         
Saves                              5          3         
Fouls                              8          11       
Offside                           5          1
Corner Kicks                4          4         

Misconduct Summary:
SJ – Ramiro Corrales (caution; Reckless Tackle) 42
SJ – Steven Lenhart (caution; Dissent) 50
KC – Aurelien Collin (caution; Reckless Foul) 52
KC – Luke Sassano (caution; Reckless Tackle) 54 

Scoring Summary:
KC – C.J. Sapong 2 (Graham Zusi 2) 31 

In the club’s second-ever match at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, Sporting Kansas City earned their first home win of the season on Friday night, blanking the San Jose Earthquakes by a 1-0 scoreline in front of a sellout crowd of 18,467 as well as a national television audience on Fox Soccer’s ‘Soccer Night in America’.  

Rookie forward C.J. Sapong finished a Graham Zusi free kick in the 31st minute, and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made five saves in a stellar defensive performance that ended a six-game unbeaten streak for the visitors. In holding San Jose scoreless, Sporting Kansas City has now kept clean sheets in three of its last four matches. Sporting Kansas City have only given up two goals overall in the last five matches dating back to the 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids on May 28th. 

The start to the match was a tepid one, with both sides enjoying bouts of possession, but no real chances. In the 15th minute, however, Sapong looked to have earned his way in behind the Earthquakes backline after rounding San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch, but the play was whistled dead as referee Paul Ward judged Sapong to have fouled San Jose centerback Bobby Burling in pursuit of the ball.

The first effort at goal for San Jose fell to enterprising right back, Steven Beitashour. Following a throw-in from the right side, Beitashour collected the short clearance and punched a low drive straight at Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Nielsen. 

In the 21st minute, this time from a free kick, there as once again havoc in the Sporting Kansas City penalty area. Following an Aurelien Collin foul on San Jose forward Steven Lenhart, Khari Stephenson stepped up and hit a low, dipping effort past the wall, leaving Nielsen with no choice but to parry away with his body. 

The 23rd minute saw what was up until that point the best chance of the match for Sporting Kansas City. A long ball from Matt Besler was headed back by Burling, intended for the goalkeeper Busch. The San Jose defender didn’t get enough power on the header, and the pass back was pounced on by Zusi. In alone on goal, Zusi skewed his shot wide of the far post with an onrushing Busch coming to cut down the angle. 

Eight minutes later, the first-ever goal in the history of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park was scored. From a free kick on the right side, Graham Zusi whipped a curling ball into the area. The ball made its way untouched into the six yard box, where C.J. Sapong was on hand at full stretch to power his shot past Busch for a 1-0 lead. 

Following the halftime interval, Sporting Kansas City would pick up right where they left off. Following some neat work from Zusi on the right, the diminutive midfielder found Luke Sassano, who played a low, powerful pass that forced Beitashour to direct back towards his own goal with pressure from Omar Bravo. The ball looked to be crossing the line, but Busch was able to scurry across just in time to keep it out. 

In the 51st minute, it was once again the physicality of Sapong that created another chance for Sporting Kansas City. Receiving a pass with his back to goal, Sapong spun past Burling into space and found Bravo, drifting in from the left. The forward’s attempted curler to the far post was blocked well by Beitashour, allowing Busch to come and collect easily. 

Three minutes later, San Jose began to get a hold of the game once again. Simon Dawkins, a halftime substitute for Frank Yallop’s side, picked the ball up in the left channel and was able to turn inside Aurelien Collin, defending cautiously having been shown a yellow card just minutes earlier. Dawkins hit a low strike towards the near post, but it was just off the mark and out for a goal kick. 

The 59th minute saw another dangerous attack for San Jose, again from the left side. Ramiro Corrales and Chance Myers collided in a challenge for the ball, but it was Corrales who won it and the midfielder put a low cross straight through the penalty area and out of danger. 

Sporting Kansas City were able to limit the amount of chances for San Jose, until a final spell of pressure from the visitors in the 79th minute. A free kick from the edge of the area was struck hard by Dawkins that Nielsen was equal to. The rebound was cleared, but only as far as Ellis McLoughlin. McLoughin lofted a cross to the back post that found Corrales, but the midfielder’s volley blazed across the face of goal and away for a goal kick. 

That was the last true chance of the match, as Peter Vermes brought on both Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara to help keep possession and ensure that Sporting Kansas City got their first-ever win at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

Sporting Kansas City next travels to face the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, June 22 at PPL Park before returning home to host the Vancouver Whitecaps at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, June 25th. Tickets are available at or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.

Fast Facts:

     - Sporting Kansas City is now 3-6-4 in 2011 and is currently in ninth position in the Eastern Conference.
     - Sporting Kansas City is 19-20-6 all-time against San Jose and 15-7-1 all-time at home in the series. Sporting KC has won eight straight against San Jose in Kansas City, dating back to the 2004 season when the streak started with three straight victories in the U.S. Open Cup, MLS regular season and MLS Cup playoffs. Over that period, Sporting Kansas City has outscored San Jose 16-3.
     - With the win, Sporting Kansas City improved to 1-0-1 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
     - Sporting Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong recorded the first MLS goal scored at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in the 31st minute on an assist from Graham Zusi.
     - After scoring on their first corner kick and direct kick of the season on Sunday in a 4-1 win at FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City scored their first goal indirectly from a free kick on Sapong’s volley.
     - Sapong now has two goals in his rookie MLS season and five goals in all competition after scoring three times in U.S. Open Cup qualifiers. Sapong’s goal on Friday was his first since scoring less than two minutes into his professional debut in the season opener on March 19th.
     - Zusi recorded his third career assist on Sapong’s strike. The third-year pro recorded two goals and an assist in the team’s 4-1 win at FC Dallas and now has six points in Sporting Kansas City’s last two games.
     - Sporting Kansas City is 2-0-1 when leading at halftime in 2011.
     - Sporting Kansas City is 3-1-1 when scoring first in 2011.
     - San Jose suffered their first loss in seven MLS matches. The Earthquakes were 4-0-2 in their last six games prior to Friday’s defeat.
     - Entering Friday’s match, San Jose had scored 13 goals in their past five matches and had not been shutout in six straight MLS matches.
     - Sporting Kansas City recorded their third shutout in the team’s last four matches.
     - Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen recorded his first shutout of the 2011 season. The 2010 MLS All-Star selection now has 11 shutouts in his KC career, breaking a tie with Mike Ammann for fourth most in team history.
     - Nielsen also recorded his 12th victory of his KC career, tying Garth Lagerway for fifth most in club history.
     - Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in their last five MLS matches (2-0-3) and in their last six games in all competition (3-0-3).
     - Sporting Kansas City captain Davy Arnaud broke a tie with Preki for third place on the club’s all-time games started chart, including postseason. Arnaud has now started 219 MLS matches, with nine of those starts coming in the MLS Cup playoffs.
     - Sporting Kansas City is 3-3-3 in the all-Sporting Blue uniforms in 2011.
     - Prior to the match, Sporting Kansas City held a moment of silence for the late Kevin Gray, honoring him on the scoreboard with a message that read, “Kansas City Sports forever thankful.” The team and technical staff also wore black armbands in his memory.
     - Sporting Kansas City was without defenders Shavar Thomas (Jamaica) and Roger Espinoza (Honduras), both of whom are with their respective National Teams in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Honduras plays Costa Rica on Saturday, while Jamaica faces the United States on Sunday.
     - San Jose was without forwards Ryan Johnson (Jamaica) and Chris Wondolowski (USA) due to their participation in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Prior to Friday, Wondolowski had scored in each of San Jose’s last three matches against Sporting KC.
     - Sporting Kansas City was also without Ryan Smith (left groin strain) and Craig Rocastle (right knee sprain) on Friday due to injury, while San Jose’s Ike Opara (left foot injury) and Andre Luiz (left knee injury) were out for the Earthquakes.
     - Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin received a yellow card in the 52nd minute, his fifth in MLS play this season, and will miss Sporting Kansas City’s match on Wednesday at Philadelphia to serve a one-game suspension for caution accumulation.
     - KSMO-TV will air highlights and reaction from Friday’s match on the station’s weekly 30-minute soccer show “Off the Pitch with Sporting Kansas City” on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. CT.
     - Sporting KC travels to Philadelphia to take on the Union on Wednesday, June 22nd at PPL Park. The LIVESTRONG Sporting Park Member’s Club will be open for a watch party during the match.
     - The Sporting Kansas City U13 Juniors won the Missouri State Cup on Friday in St. Louis with a 5-1 win over Scott Gallagher. Earlier this month, the U15 Juniors were crowned Kansas State Cup champions. Both teams advance to the Region II Championships in Fox Cities, Wisconsin.