Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong dance on St. Patrick's Day
Kory Brinton

Recap: SKC shuts out Revs in home opener 3-0

Saturday, March 17, 2012, 7:30 p.m. CT
English TV: KSMO
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM

LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 19,777
Video: Match Highlights





Sporting Kansas City (2-0-0, 6 pts)




New England Revolution (0-2-0, 0 pts) 





Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin (Lawrence Olum 59), Seth Sinovic ; Julio Cesar (Luke Sassano 76), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi (Paulo Nagamura 57); Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, Bobby Convey 

Subs not used: Jon Kempin, Michael Harrington, Jacob Peterson, Soony Saad

New England Revolution: Matt Reis; Kevin Alston, Stephen McCarthy, Clyde Simms, A.J. Soares; Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber (Jeremiah White 61), Chris Tierney, Saer Sene (Diego Fagundez 57), Kelyn Rowe (Ryan Guy 46), Lee Nguyen

Subs not used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Fernando Cardenas, Blake Brettschneider, Tyler Polak

Stats:              KC     NE
Shots                27      11
Shots on Goal   7         6
Saves                6         4
Fouls                12      10
Offside             4          2
Corner Kicks    4          1

Misconduct Summary:
NE – Stephen McCarthy (Ejection; Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity) 14
KC – Graham Zusi (Caution; Excessive Celebration) 28
KC – Chance Myers (Caution; Reckless Foul) 45

Scoring Summary:
KC – Graham Zusi 1 (Kei Kamara 1) 28
KC – Kei Kamara 1 (unassisted) 39
KC – C.J. Sapong 2 (Seth Sinovic 1, Graham Zusi 2) 47

Sporting Kansas City defeated the New England Revolution by a 3-0 scoreline in the club’s home opener at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Saturday. A standing-room-only crowd of 19,777 watched as Sporting Kansas City won their second match in a row to start the 2012 MLS regular season. The team currently sits in first place in the Eastern Conference. 

Graham Zusi and Kei Kamara each tallied a goal and an assist while C.J. Sapong scored a goal in back-to-back matches for the first time in his career. The victory makes manager Peter Vermes the winningest coach in club history as Sporting improved to an all-time record of 10-2-6 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

The Revolution wasted little time creating the first chance of the match. In just the fifth minute of play, Revolution defender Chris Tierney found himself in space down the left before whipping in a low cross that was cleared away by defender Matt Besler. Besler’s clearance was picked up at the edge of the area by Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who had his shot attempt blocked away for a corner at the last moment by Julio Cesar. 

In the ninth minute, Sporting Kansas City nearly took the lead through midfielder Roger Espinoza. A deflected long ball played out of the back saw forward C.J. Sapong collide with Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis. The ball eventually found its way to Espinoza breaking across the halfway line, as the Honduran international took a touch before letting fly an audacious chip attempt that caught Reis out of his goal before hitting the post.  

New England would go down to ten men five minutes later as second-year Revolution defender Stephen McCarthy was shown a straight red card for being the last man back in a challenge on Sapong. The ensuing free kick saw forward Bobby Convey pick out Kamara at the near post, who flashed his header wide at the near post. Four minutes later, Espinoza nearly added another as a corner was played all the way through to the backpost. Espinoza coiled and unleashed a wicked half-volley that fizzed just past the far post. 

The 28th minute would see Sporting Kansas City grab their first goal of the 2012 season at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, and it was 2011’s Breakout Player of the Year Graham Zusi who opened the scoring. With the ball out wide on the left, Seth Sinovic sent in a cross that was controlled at the back post by Kamara. Kamara directed a drive into the six-yard box as Zusi and Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph challenged for the ball. The two met at the same time, but Zusi was able to scramble the quickest, right-footing from his backside to put Sporting Kansas City in front. 

Four minutes later, Sapong was again testing the Revolution backline. Convey pressured Joseph into a turnover in his own half, winning the ball cleanly off the Revolution captain before slipping Sapong into the left channel. Sapong, jostling with Revs defender A.J. Soares, drove into the area before putting his effort straight at Reis, who blocked it away with his chest. 

Espinoza nearly opened his account again in the 34th minute as Sporting Kansas City countered with numbers toward the New England penalty area. Played in by Zusi, Espinoza scooted a left-footed shot just wide following late pressure from New England midfielder Clyde Simms.

Three minutes later, New England answered back with a chance of their own as new signing Lee Nguyen found Simms running into the area, but the midfielder hit his left-footed effort over as Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen came out to narrow the angle. 

Up a man and buoyed by the noise of a capacity crowd, Sporting extended their lead in the 39th minute through Kamara. Following a quick passing combination with Convey, Sinovic put a cross into the area that was punched by Reis into the path of Kamara. The Sierra Leone international attempted a first-time shot at goal that was saved by Reis, but the Revs goalkeeper could do little about the follow attempt as Kamara side-footed another shot into the top corner. 

Espinoza had another chip sail just high in stoppage time before referee Silviu Petrescu blew an end to a wild opening half at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. 

Two minutes after the break, Sapong added a third for Sporting Kansas City. Winning the ball in the New England half, Julio Cesar found Graham Zusi with his back to goal at the edge of the area. Zusi turned and chipped a teasing pass between two Revs defenders for Sinovic. Sinovic advanced to the byline before cutting a pass back for Sapong, who finished easily past Reis. 

Revolution midfielder Ryan Guy had a header saved by Nielsen in the 56th minute. Guy, taking a cross from Feilhaber on the right flank, snapped his effort downward to the far post but Nielsen was able to scramble across to preserve the clean sheet. 

Sporting could have made it four with four clear-cut chances created in a span of six minutes. In the 80th minute, Sinovic blazed over after blocked shot attempts on Espinoza and substitute midfielder Luke Sassano. Three minutes later, Reis was saved well from Kamara’s header after a Convey corner. Reis made another tremendous save in the 85th minute, denying Sapong’s breakaway attempt as the forward walked in alone. From the ensuing corner, Chance Myers put his header against the crossbar. 

Sporting Kansas City will resume regular season action next Sunday, March 25 when they host FC Dallas at 6 p.m. CT at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Tickets are available at or at the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park box office

Fast Facts:

  • Sporting Kansas City is 2-0-0 this season and are tied with the Houston Dynamo for first place in the Eastern Conference.
  • Sporting Kansas City opened their 2012 home schedule on Saturday with a win and are now 10-2-6 all-time at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in MLS regular season play.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 196-199-100 all-time and 132-72-43 at home in the team’s 17-year history.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 11-2-4 in home openers in club history and have lost only one home opener in the last 13 years.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 7-6-1 all-time in the month of March.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 21-13-9 all-time against New England and hold a 11-6-4 advantage at home in the series.
  • Sporting Kansas City was winless in their last three MLS matches against the Revolution entering Saturday. With the win, Sporting Kansas City have not lost at home to New England since the 2008 season.
  • New England Revolution midfielder Stephen McCarthy was sent off for the first time in his career in the 14th minute for a foul on C.J. Sapong. 
  • The red card was the third earliest received by a Sporting Kansas City opponent in team history.
  • With the ejection, there have been eight red cards shown in the last ten meetings between Sporting Kansas City and New England, including one in each of the last three matches in the series.
  • Sporting Kansas City was 2-0-2 in 2011 when an opponent received a red card (five players sent off versus Sporting Kansas city last season).
  • Sporting Kansas City was without striker Teal Bunbury, who has joined the U.S. Under-23 National Team for a training camp in advance of the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
  • Reigning MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong replaced Bunbury in the starting lineup.
  • With the exception of Bunbury, Sporting Kansas City started the same lineup from the club’s 1-0 win at D.C. United last Saturday. 
  • Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made six saves in his second straight shutout. The win lowers his all-time goals against average to 1.12, the best career mark among all goalkeepers in KC history.
  • Sporting Kansas City posted back-to-back shutouts to open a season for the third time in team history. The 2004 and 2010 seasons also started with two consecutive clean sheets.
  • A standing-room only crowd of 19,777 attended Saturday’s night home opener, marking the 10th regular season sell-out since the venue opened in June 2012.
  • Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi scored in the 28th minute, cleaning up from close range for his seventh career MLS regular season goal. 
  • After scoring a career-high five goals last season, Saturday’s goal was Zusi’s first regular season strike since August 17, 2011.
  • Sporting KC striker Kei Kamara earned the assist on Zusi’s goal. The assist was the 500th all-time assist in team history during a win.
  • Kamara scored his first goal of the season in the 39th minute, hammering home a rebound after his initial attempt was saved by Matt Reis.
  • Kamara now has six goals and two assists in 11 career appearances against New England, most among all active Sporting Kansas City players.
  • The goal was the 21st of Kamara’s career in KC, breaking a tie with Mark Chung for sole possession of eighth on Sporting KC’s all-time goals scored chart.
  • Kamara now has 35 goals and 14 assists in his MLS career.
  • Saturday marks the third time in Kamara’s career that he has recorded a goal and an assist in an MLS regular season match.
  • Sporting Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong scored for the second straight match on Saturday, finishing a first-time effort from eight yards out in the 47th minute. Sporting Kansas City is 8-0-0 when Sapong scores in his MLS career.
  • Following an MLS Rookie of the Year campaign in 2011, Sapong now has seven MLS regular season goals in two professional seasons. Saturday marked the first time in his career he has recorded goals in back-to-back matches.
  • Sapong’s goal marked the 400th second half goal in club history. The team’s next goal will be the 700th all-time in the team’s 17-year history.
  • Sporting KC defender Seth Sinovic earned the assist on Sapong’s strike, recording the first point of his MLS career against his former club.
  • Zusi also was credited with an assist on Sapong’s goal, his second of the season after also assisting on Sapong’s goal against D.C. United in week one.
  • Zusi is one of four players in MLS with two assists so far in the 2012 season.
  • Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes moved atop the team’s all-time coaches chart for best winning percentage (.506, 29-28-21), surpassing Bob Gansler (.502, 86-85-51).
  • Paulo Nagamura entered the match in the 57th minute, replacing Zusi and making his Sporting KC debut.
  • Sporting Kansas City recorded 27 shots on Saturday, tied for the most in a single match in club history.
  • Sporting Kansas City leads all MLS teams with 44 shots through two games this season.
  • Kamara matched his career-high with seven shots on Saturday and leads all MLS players with 13 shots and seven shots on goal through two games this season.
  • Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza and forward C.J. Sapong matched their career-highs with five shots on Saturday.
  • Saturday’s match was presented by Sprint and the first 10,000 fans received a complimentary 2012 schedule and car magnet, courtesy of Sprint.
  • The national anthem and pre-game ceremony culminated with a fly-over by seven jets over LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. 
  • The O'Riada-McCarty-Manning Academy Academy of Irish Dance performed at halftime of the match on Saturday.
  • The Members’ Club at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park hosted a postgame party on Saturday with Slimfast from 96.5 the Buzz and featuring ticket giveaways and food specials.
  • Saturday marked the first match that Sporting Kansas City season ticket members had the opportunity to utilize their membership cards for entry into LIVESTRONG Sporting Park instead of paper tickets.
  • Sporting Kansas City will open the 2012 MLS Reserve League on Tuesday at Real Salt Lake with the team's next regular season match on Sunday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park against FC Dallas.
  • Because Sporting Kansas City scored more than two goals at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Saturday, all in attendance received a voucher for a free 2-Liter of Pepsi Max.
  • Because Sporting Kansas City scored three goals at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Saturday, all ticket holders can receive a free hair cut at area Great Clips locations through next Saturday.