Celebration vs. D.C. United at RFK Stadium
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Recap: SKC opens 2012 with dramatic 1-0 win at D.C.

Saturday, March 10, 2012, 6:30 p.m. CT
English TV: KSMO
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM

RFK Stadium | Washington, D.C.
Attendance: 16,314
Video: Match Highlights

 

Score                                                        1          2          F
Sporting Kansas City (1-0-0, 3 pts)                0          1          1
D.C. United (0-1-0, 0 pts)                              0          0          0

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen©; Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic ; Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi; Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 75), Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 85)

Subs not used: Jon Kempin, Michael Harrington, Lawrence Olum, Soony Saad, Luke Sassano

D.C. United: Bill Hamid; Robbie Russell, Dejan Jakovic, Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Branko Boskovic (Josh Wolff 66), Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius (Danny Cruz 74); Dwayne De Rosario, Hamdi Salihi (Maicon Santos 80)

Subs not used: Emiliano Dudar, Stephen King, Chris Korb, Joe Willis

Stats:                          KC     DC
Shots                            17       7
Shots on Goal                8         1
Saves                            1         7
Fouls                            16       12
Offside                           0         3
Corner Kicks                   5         3

Misconduct Summary:
KC – Teal Bunbury (Reckless Foul) 51
DC – Branko Boskovic (Tactical Foul) 54

Scoring Summary:
KC – C.J. Sapong 1 (Graham Zusi 1) 93+

Sporting Kansas City opened the 2012 Major League Soccer season with a dramatic 1-0 victory over D.C. United on Saturday at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Striker C.J. Sapong, the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year, headed home a Graham Zusi corner kick in the third minute of second-half stoppage time for the game-winning goal.The successful start to the new campaign returns Sporting Kansas City to the top of the Eastern Conference following a first place finish a year ago.

Sporting Kansas City controlled the First Kick fixture throughout the match, outshooting the home side 17-7 with an 8-1 advantage in shots on goal. But it wasn’t until the team’s final attempt of the match that Sporting broke through for the full three points and sent the capacity-crowd at the team’s watch party in the Members’ Club at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park into a roar of celebration.

Following a foul on Sapong in the game’s waning moments, it was Zusi’s free kick from 25 yards out that deflected out for a corner. The set piece specialist served an in-swinging delivery and Sapong timed his run well to meet the service at the top of the six-yard box. His glancing header in traffic froze D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid and settled inside the far post for the sixth regular season goal of his MLS career and his second game-winning goal in as many seasons.

Zusi’s assist, his ninth career regular-season assist after he recorded seven in 2011, came on the latest game-winning goal scored by Sporting Kansas City since Josh Wolff’s 96th minute goal against the Houston Dynamo two years ago.

In the game’s early stages it was Sporting Kansas City striker Kei Kamara who collected most all of the chances created. First in the 12th minute, Kamara forced a turnover and had his shot blocked out for Sporting's first corner of the match.

Five minutes later, Kamara challenged Bill Hamid for a cross into the penalty area but the D.C. United goalkeeper secured the service at the last moment. Moments later, Kamara's aerial abilities were on display as Bobby Convey curled a set piece toward the penalty spot but Kamara's was whistled for an infringement as his header was acrobatically held by Hamid.

Sporting Kansas City continued to control the play in the opening 45 minutes with Kamara coming close to giving the visitors a first half lead. Zusi led the counter attack in the 36th minute prior to playing a pass to Kamara on the right wing. He took a touch before attempting an early effort from 25 yards out that sailed narrowly wide of the far post.

D.C. United's best scoring opportunity of the half came in the 39th minute as Chris Pontius combined with 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario for a give-and-go to unlock the Sporting KC defense. Pontius looked poise to test Nielsen but his shot rolled wide from the top of the area.

The first half's most exciting moment waited until the final minute as Roger Espinoza sent a cross into the goalmouth for Kamara to rush onto. The Sierra Leone international rose high to outleap his marker and directed his header down, but Hamid did well to keep the match scoreless with a two-footed save to direct it wide of the goal.

Following the break, Sporting KC continued to threaten as Teal Bunbury had a pair of chances in back-to-back minutes. He turned and sent his shot narrowly wide in the 47th minute then put another attempt over the bar after receiving a feed from Zusi inside the penalty area.

Zusi’s free kick in the 55th minute found Collin in the middle of the box and the Frenchman directed his header on frame. Hamid spilled the shot but recovered in time to prevent Matt Besler from capitalizing nearby.

D.C. United looked dangerous one minute later as Robbie Russell’s cross connected with Hamdi Salihi, but the new Designated Player’s header went wide of Jimmy Nielsen’s net. The Sporting KC captain would only need to make a single save in the victory, holding onto a free kick from second half substitute Maicon Santos in the 84th minute for his 18th career regular season shutout.

Santos was put into a scoring position again four minutes later after a give-and-go with De Rosario, but his volley went well over the crossbar.

On the opposite end, Hamid recorded a career-high seven saves upon being called into action often. He smothered a dipping shot from Espinoza in the 65th minute before denying Zusi twice in a five-minute span, once from the left corner of the penalty area with a bending shot aimed for the far post and then on a skipping shot from beyond the area that he did well to block.

Sporting Kansas City will now ride the momentum into their home opener at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 17 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park when they take on the New England Revolution. Tickets are still available and can be purchased on Ticketmaster.com or by visiting the LSP Box Offices.

FAST FACTS

  • With the win, Sporting Kansas City is 1-0-0 in 2012 and are assured of first place in the Eastern Conference at the conclusion of week one.
  • Sporting KC is now 17-18-9 all-time against D.C. United and 6-12-4 on the road in the series.
  • Sporting Kansas City has earned 1-0 victories in each of the last three meetings with D.C. United.
  • The three-game winning streak over D.C. United marks the first time since the 1997 season that KC has earned three consecutive wins over D.C. United.
  • Saturday marked the first time Kansas City has scored a goal in second-half stoppage time during a season opener since Chris Brown scored in the 92nd minute against D.C. United in 2003.
  • The goal was the team’s latest match-winner since Josh Wolff scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time in a 4-3 win over the Houston Dynamo on September 22, 2010 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
  • Sporting Kansas City is now 11-4-2 all-time in season openers, the best mark among all MLS teams. KC has lost only one season opener in the last 11 seasons.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 5-2-0 all-time in season openers against D.C. United and 2-2-0 in season openers at RFK Stadium.
  • With Saturday’s victory, Sporting Kansas City has won the last five matches against D.C. United in season openers.
  • Sporting Kansas City has a record of 3-2-1 when tied at halftime in season openers.
  • Sporting KC held a 4-5-5 record in the 2011 regular season when tied going into the second half.
  • Sporting Kansas City’s starting lineup on Saturday featured 10 of the 11 starters from the 2011 Eastern Conference Championship. The lone change to the line-up was Bobby Convey’s insertion in place of C.J. Sapong.
  • For the second straight year, Sapong scored in the club’s season-opening match. He struck in the second match of his MLS debut in 2011 at Chivas USA.
  • Sporting KC midfielder Paulo Nagumura was not available on Saturday due to a right calf strain.
  • Forward Bobby Convey made his first appearance for Sporting Kansas City, starting at left forward on Saturday.
  • Forward Jacob Peterson also made his first appearance with Sporting Kansas City, replacing Convey in the 85th minute. Both players were acquired in the offseason from the San Jose Earthquakes.
  • Sporting Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong scored the club’s first goal of 2012, his seventh career goal in MLS competition after striking six times during his rookie season last year.
  • Graham Zusi picked up his 11th career assist in MLS competition on the goal, six of which have come on game-winning goals.
  • D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid set a single-game career high with seven saves in the match.
  • Sporting Kansas City captain Jimmy Nielsen made one save in the match en route to his 18th career MLS shutout.
  • A capacity crowd attended the team’s official watch party on Saturday in the Members’ Club at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
  • KSMO-TV will air the first episode of the station’s weekly 30-minute soccer show “Off the Pitch with Sporting Kansas City” on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. CT.
  • Sporting Kansas City will play their home opener on next Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 7:30PM CDT at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park