Midfielder Graham Zusi

KC draws Rapids 1-1 to extend run to nine

MLS Game #17
Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 7:30 p.m. CT
English TV: KSMO
Spanish TV: Time Warner Cable Ch. 5
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: Clear and 86 degrees
Attendance: 15, 209
Video: Match Highlights

Score: 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (5-6-6, 21 pts) 0 1 1
Colorado Rapids (5-5-9, 24 pts) 1 0 1      

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Chance Myers (Birahim Diop 90), Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington; Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar; Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 61), Omar Bravo, Kei Kamara 

Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Scott Lorenz, Luke Sassano, Milos Stojcev, Shavar Thomas

Colorado Rapids: Matt Pickens; Kosuke Kimura, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne; Jeff Larentowicz, Ross LaBauex (Sanna Nyassi 65), Pablo Mastroeni (Joseph Nane 30), Wells Thompson; Omar Cummings (Caleb Folan 82), Conor Casey

Subs not used: Steward Ceus, Andre Akpan, Danny Earls, Scott Palguta 

Stats:                            SKC       COL
Shots 14 8
Shots on Goal 4 3
Saves 2 3
Fouls 16 12
Offside 4 3
Corner Kicks 4 3   

Misconduct Summary:
COL – Pablo Mastroeni (Caution; Reckless Tackle) 12
COL – Ross LaBauex (Caution; Reckless Tackle) 23
KC – Julio Cesar (Caution; Reckless Foul) 51

Scoring Summary:
COL – Conor Casey 5 (Tyrone Marshall 1) 32
KC – Graham Zusi 3 (unassisted) 62

Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids played to a 1-1 draw at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Wednesday night. With the draw, Sporting Kansas City (5-6-6) gained sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference. 

A Conor Casey strike in the 32nd minute put Colorado up heading into halftime, but Graham Zusi scored his third goal of the year to help keep Sporting Kansas City unbeaten at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park since the stadium’s opening on June 9. 

The game’s first chance came in the 12th minute, as midfielder Roger Espinoza touched a pass into space for Teal Bunbury, who was able to turn in the area and hit a hard drive to the right of Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens. Bunbury’s effort caromed back off the post, however, as the scores remained level. 

Ten minutes later, Zusi laid a pass into the path of Kei Kamara streaking down the flank. Kamara played a low cross into the area that found Omar Bravo at the back post, but the Designated Player was unable to steer his effort on target. 

Colorado came into the match in the 24th minute through forward Omar Cummings. Controlling a pass at the edge of the area, Cummings managed to get off a low drive to the near post that was saved smartly by Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

In the 32nd minute, Colorado took the lead. Following a foul at midfield, Tyrone Marshall served the ensuing free kick to the top of the area for Casey. The target man took the lofted pass on his chest, turned and fired a half-volley past Nielsen to put the Rapids in front at the break. 

Sporting Kansas City earned the first chance of the second half in the 50th minute. Kamara, again finding himself in space on the right, played a pass in front of goal for Bravo, but the ball was turned away by Kosuke Kimura and out of danger. 

Eleven minutes later, a Kamara header to the back post nearly found Bravo again, but the forward’s volley attempt was blocked away for a corner. Just seconds later, a high ball into the area forced a collision between Pickens and Sporting Kansas City substitute C.J. Sapong. Pickens managed to punch the ball away, but only as far as Julio Cesar, and the defensive midfielder knocked his volley effort just over the bar. 

In the 62nd minute, Sporting Kansas City found the equalizer. Released into space, Sapong hit a low shot to the left of Pickens. The Colorado goalkeeper got down well to save the initial effort, but the rebound fell to Graham Zusi, who finished into an empty net for his third goal on the season. 

The 75th minute saw a free kick opportunity for Colorado just outside the area. Substitute Sanna Nyassi, who had come on in the 65th minute for midfielder Ross LaBauex, curled the free kick over the wall, but his shot sailed just high. 

Coming back the other way on the very next possession going forward for Sporting Kansas City, Bravo found a pocket of space in the area and poked a quick shot at goal that Pickens could only turn away to his right. Sporting Kansas City defender Michael Harrington was on hand to try and finish the rebound, and the left back’s shot squirted under Pickens into the six yard box only for Bravo to stab a second effort off the post. 

The 94th minute nearly saw Sporting Kansas City snatch all three points. Receiving a pass in the area, Sapong was able to turn and have a strike at goal. The forward attempted to curl his effort to the far post, but Sapong’s shot deflected off the back of Joseph Nane, and drew a tremendous reaction save from Pickens to keep the scores level. 

Sporting Kansas City will play their second home match in four days on Saturday, July 9 when they host Chivas USA at 6:30 p.m. CT at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The match will be the second of the year against Chivas USA, following a 3-2 win for Sporting Kansas City in the first match of the year at the Home Depot Center on March 19. Tickets for the match can be purchased by visiting TicketMaster.com. 

Fast Facts:

Sporting Kansas City is now 5-6-6 in 2011 and moves into sole possession of fourth position in the Eastern Conference.

Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in the club’s inaugural season at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park with a 2-0-2 record in MLS matches. Sporting Kansas City is 124-70-39 all-time at home.

Sporting Kansas City has allowed only two goals at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and leads MLS in home goals against average at 0.50.

Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in nine straight MLS matches, and 11 games in all competition.

With the draw, Sporting Kansas City’s nine-game unbeaten streak is the second-longest in MLS this season, behind only the LA Galaxy, and matches the second longest in team history. 

Sporting Kansas City is 20-17-12 all-time against the Colorado Rapids and 16-3-5 at home in the series. Sporting Kansas City has not lost at home to the Rapids since the 2002 season, a span of 12 MLS matches when including postseason.

Midfielder Graham Zusi, MLS Player of the Month for June, scored his third goal of the season and fourth of his career in the 62nd minute on Wednesday. Zusi has nine points in 2011 on three goals and three assists, all of which have come in his past five appearances.

Zusi joins Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury, C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara with the team lead in goals scored this season.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen recorded two saves on Wednesday and now has 46 on the year, sixth most in MLS this season. Nielsen lowered his goal against average in 2011 to 1.29 with the performance.

Sporting Kansas City have allowed only four goals in their past eight MLS matches.

Sporting Kansas City earned their second point of the 2011 season when trailing at halftime and are now 0-2-2 when behind at the break. 

Sporting Kansas City is 1-5-2 when conceding the first goal in 2011, while the Rapids are 4-1-5 when scoring first this season.

Sporting Kansas City is 3-0-3 when the temperature is above 75 degrees at kickoff in 2011.

Sporting Kansas City is 5-2-3 against the Western Conference this season.

Sporting Kansas City improved to 5-3-5 in all-Sporting blue uniforms this season in MLS play.

Manager Peter Vermes made two changes on Wednesday from the starting line-up used from Saturday’s 2-1 win at Portland. Strikers Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury started in place of Milos Stojcev and C.J. Sapong.

Sapong entered in the 61st minute and is the only Sporting Kansas City player to appear in all 17  MLS matches for the club this season.

Defender Roger Espinoza made the 75th appearance of his MLS and Sporting Kansas City career on Wednesday, fourth most among all current players.

Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni received a caution in the 15th minute of Wednesday’s match, his fifth of the season, and he will now miss the Rapids next match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC due to yellow card accumulation.

Mastroeni left the match in the 30th minute due to a hyperextended knee.

Colorado Rapids striker Conor Casey scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season and 47th regular season goal of his MLS career in the 32nd minute. Casey also scored against Sporting Kansas City in the team’s previous meeting this season, a 1-1 draw on May 28th, and now has five goals in seven career appearances against KC.

Rapids defender Tyrone Marshall earned his first point of the season with an assist on Casey’s goal in the 32nd minute.

MLSSoccer.com launched a new Chalkboard tool with a comprehensive statistical analysis of all MLS matches, powered by Opta. Visit the Sporting Kansas City – Colorado Rapids MatchCenter on MLSSoccer.com to use the interactive feature.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Davy Arnaud underwent sports hernia surgery on Wednesday in Los Angeles and is expected to miss up to six weeks.

The David George Band performed in the Sprint Plaza prior to Wednesday’s match as part of the Live at LSP concert series, presented by INK, which features up-and-coming local bands.

Meduloblastoma survivor Santos Arreloa was an honorary guest in the Victory Suite at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Wednesday, sitting in the signature yellow seat that symbolizes the stadium’s innovative partnership with the LIVESTRONG Foundation.

KSMO-TV will air highlights and reaction from Wednesday’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.