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Recap: Sporting KC posts 2-1 win over D.C. United

LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kan.
Attendance: 20,439
Weather: 85 degrees and sunny
Video: Match Highlights
Quotes

Score                                                              1          2          F

Sporting Kansas City (13-7-4, 43 pts)           1          1          2

D.C. United (11-8-3, 36 pts)                          1          0          1

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen ©; Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Neven Markovic; Paulo Nagamura (Julio Cesar 88), Roger Espinoza (Oriol Rosell 93+), Michael Thomas (C.J. Sapong 84); Graham Zusi, Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara

Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Korede Aiyegbusi, Chance Myers, Soony Saad

D.C. United: Bill Hamid; Chris Korb, Emiliano Dudar, Brandon McDonald, Mike Chabala (Danny Cruz 80); Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Branko Boskovic (Marcelo Saragosa 46), Nick DeLeon; Chris Pontius ©, Long Tan (Josh Wolff 71)

Subs not used: Joe Willis, Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic, Danny Cruz, Lewis Neal

Stats:                                      KC     DC

Shots                           18        7
Shots on Goal             5          2
Saves                           1          3
Fouls                           13        14
Offside                        3          2
Corner Kicks               9          1

Misconduct Summary:

KC – Michael Thomas (caution; tactical foul) 2
DC – Marcelo Saragosa (caution; reckless foul) 46
KC – Roger Espinoza (caution; reckless tackle) 49
KC – Graham Zusi (caution; delaying a restart) 90
KC – C.J. Sapong (caution; delaying a restart) 92+
DC – Emiliano Dudar (caution; unsporting behavior) 94+

Scoring Summary:

KC – Teal Bunbury 5  (Graham Zusi 10) 13
DC – Nick DeLeon 4 (Andy Najar 3) 23
KC – Graham Zusi 3 (Kei Kamara 5, Matt Besler 1) 63

 

Sporting Kansas City defeated D.C. United by a 2-1 scoreline in front of the second-largest crowd of the season at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Saturday. The win moves Sporting Kansas City into first place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the New York Red Bulls, with 10 games remaining in the regular season.

The home side scored early with a close-range header from Teal Bunbury in the 13th minute. Graham Zusi provided the assist, his MLS-leading 10th of the year, and would then score game-winning goal in the 63rd minute.

The two sides started the match fiercely, exchanging five shots inside the first eight minutes. Jimmy Nielsen made his only save of the night in the fifth minute to deny Chris Pontius and three minutes later D.C. United defender Brandon McDonald sailed his shot high after a nice piece of combination play with Long Tan at the top of the penalty area.

Sporting Kansas City’s breakthrough began with a Matt Besler throw-in from the left sideline in the game’s 12th minute. Aurelien Collin won the ensuing header over McDonald and forced a fingertip save from Bill Hamid to push it over the crossbar.

Zusi directed the resulting corner kick to Bunbury, who placed his glancing header from eight yards out inside the far post for his fifth goal of the season and third in the past five MLS matches.

Sporting Kansas City continued to press three minutes later when Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara played a quick one-two and Kamara sent in a low, angled shot that was just wide of the far right post.

In the 20th minute, Bunbury played the ball to Zusi in the center for a shot from 20 yards out. Hamid sprawled to make the save, one of three in the first half.

D.C. United fought back and equalized in the 23rd minute when Andy Najar, Espinoza’s teammate on the Honduran National Team, sent in a floating cross to rookie Nick DeLeon at the far left post. DeLeon took one touch and sent the ball past Nielsen with a sliding finish from inside the six-yard box for his fourth goal of the year.

Sporting Kansas City would hold D.C. United without a shot for the remainder of the half, and only two more attempts in the entire match, while controlling nearly 63% of the possession.

In the 38th minute, Bunbury again acted as the playmaker, holding off his mark and playing the ball to Paulo Nagamura. The Brazilian’s curving shot beat Hamid but was saved by the woodwork at the far right post.

Just two minutes later, Zusi sent in a free kick from the right that Michael Thomas connected with at the penalty mark and headed toward goal only to see Hamid made another strong save, diving to his right to deflect the goal-bound shot. 

The second half would see more of the same attacking soccer from Sporting Kansas City. The first noteworthy chance came in the 53rd minute when Bunbury sprinted to keep the ball in play, sending a first-time cross at the endline. Zusi’s precise volley looked destined for the back of the net but struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced backed into play.

Zusi wouldn’t be denied ten minutes later, putting his team ahead for good. Kamara received a long ball over the top from Matt Besler, who earned his first assist of the year on the play, and Kamara picked out Zusi all alone at the backpost. Zusi settled the cross and fired his shot beneath the outrushing goalkeeper for his third goal of the year, all of which stood up as game-winning goals, and ninth goal of his career.

Despite being down a goal, D.C. United would manage only one shot in the game’s finaly 30 minutes. Danny Cruz would have the honors in the 86th minute but scuffed it wide after receiving the pass from fellow second-half substitute Marcelo Saragosa.

Saturday’s win was Sporting Kansas City’s fourth straight over D.C. United, sweeping the season series in 2012, and came in Manager Peter Vermes’ 100th MLS regular season match at the helm of the club. The milestone moves Vermes into a tie with Ron Newman for the second-most regular season games by a manager in club history.

Sporting Kansas City will return to the road to face Toronto FC at 3:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, August 18 at BMO Field. The match will be broadcast live on KSMO-TV with pre-game coverage beginning at 3 p.m. CT. 

FAST FACTS:

  • With the win, Sporting Kansas City’s record moves to 13-7-4 in 2012 and 7-3-2 at home this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City takes sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with 43 points.
  • Sporting KC’s 43 points are second most in MLS and the team’s 1.79 points per game are also second-best behind San Jose.
  • Sporting Kansas City is the third team in the League this season to reach 13 wins. The victory tally equals Sporting KC’s total when they finished in first place in the Eastern Conference for the 2011 season and are the most wins since 2004.
  • Sporting Kansas City has the most wins in the Eastern Conference with 13.
  • Peter Vermes managed the 100th MLS regular season match in his KC coaching career on Saturday, tying Ron Newman for the second most MLS matches managed by a KC head coach.
  • Sporting Kansas City defender Neven Markovic made his first MLS start in Saturday’s match and second MLS appearance.
  • Saturday’s match marked Aurelien Collin’s first appearance with Sporting Kansas City since suffering two facial fractures at the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Red Bull Arena on July 25.
  • Sporting KC’s newest signing, Oriol Rosell, made his MLS debut in second-half stoppage time on Saturday after joining Sporting Kansas City on August 2.
  • D.C. United midfielder Dwayne De Rosario missed his first MLS match during the 2012 season on Saturday due to injury, as did teammates Robbie Russell (Plantar Fasciitis), Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptons), Maicon Santos (toe soreness) and Hamdi Salihi (viral infection).
  • Michael Thomas received a yellow card in the second minute of Saturday’s match, the earliest yellow card issued in a Sporting Kansas City match this season.
  • Teal Bunbury scored the first goal in Saturday’s contest, marking his first goal at home this season. The goal is Bunbury’s third in his past five games and marks his fifth goal in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 13-1-4 in MLS competition (including playoffs) when Bunbury scores during his three seasons with the club.
  • Graham Zusi earned the assist off of a corner kick. The goal was Sporting Kansas City’s fourth corner kick goal this season and ninth header goal of the season.
  • The assist was Zusi’s 10th in 2012 and moves him into a tie with D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario and Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis for most in MLS.
  • Graham Zusi scored Sporting Kansas City’s second goal of the match marking his third goal during the 2012 season and ninth all-time.
  • Kei Kamara earned the assist on Zusi’s goal, his fifth assist in 2012.
  • Kamara is one of nine players who has five or more goals and assist during the 2012 season, joining Chris Wondolowski, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Patrice Bernier, Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Dwayne De Rosario and Brad Davis.
  • The last time Sporting Kansas City scored two goals at home was on June 16, 2012 in a 2-0 win over Toronto.
  • In 2012, Sporting Kansas City is 11-2-2 when scoring first and 6-2-3 when tied at the half.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 138-75-45 at home all-time in regular season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 207-206-104 all-time in MLS regular season play.
  • Sporting Kansas City is now 18-18-9 all-time against D.C. United in the regular season and 13-6-5 at home in the match-up.
  • Sporting Kansas City has not lost to D.C. United at home since July 4, 2007.
  • With the win, Sporting KC has beat D.C. United in the last four meetings between the two clubs.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 7-5-2 against the Eastern Conference in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City was without defenders Chance Myers (groin strain) and Seth Sinovic (right ankle sprain), as well as forwards Jacob Peterson (shoulder sprain) and Bobby Convey on Saturday.
  • Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen has played every minute for the team during the 2012 regular season. Nielsen is the only Sporting KC player to appear in all 24 regular season matches.
  • Sporting Kansas City defender Michael Harrington has now played 11,543 minutes in his MLS and KC career, surpassing Josh Wolff for 10th place on the club’s all-time chart.
  • Former Kansas City midfielder Josh Wolff played 19 minutes in Saturday’s match for D.C. United.
  • Harrington started his started the 127th regular season game of his KC and MLS career on Saturday, breaking tie with Matt McKeon for sole possession of 10th most in club history.
  • Sporting Kansas City has now scored 11 goals in the first thirty minutes of matches this season.
  • Kamara leads all MLS players with 92 shots in 2012 and 36 shots on goal.
  • Sporting KC is yet to score from beyond the 18-yard box through 24 MLS matches in 2012.
  • Saturday’s match marked the second and final meeting between Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United during the 2012 regular season.
  • Saturday’s temperature was 85 degrees and Sporting KC is 6-5-2 when the conditions are above 75 degrees in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 11-6-4 when wearing Sporting Blue uniforms this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 7-5-2 when playing in the Central time zone this season and 11-6-3 when playing on a grass field.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 2-0-1 in August in all competition and moves to 33-39-12 all-time in MLS action during the month of August.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 7-5-0 in games decided by one goal in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 11-5-2 when outshooting an opponent in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City's 387 shots this season are the most in MLS.
  • Sporting Kansas City leads Major League Soccer with the fewest shots against (245).
  • Sporting Kansas City leads MLS all-time in shots taken with 7,036.
  • Sporting KC leads the League in corner kicks this season with 148, adding nine in Saturday’s match.
  • Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi leads MLS with 100 corner kicks this season.
  • The attendance at Saturday’s match was 20,439, which marks the second largest crowd of the 2012 season and 11th sellout.
  • Pepsi was the sponsor for Saturday’s match and the first 5,000 fans received a pepsi cooler.
  • All attendees received a coupon for a free Pepsi Max 2-liter from their local Price Chopper courtesy of Sporting Kansas City’s two goals in the match.
  • Sporting Kansas City hosted a post-game party in the shield club to replay the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.

 

QUOTES:

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On his team’s performance…

I’ll start and say that after Wednesday night’s win, this was a mature performance for us tonight. It’s easy to be a little complacent and maybe still have a little bit of a hangover from that game, but the commitment by the team tonight was incredible. For me, the win Wednesday was great, it was a championship and everything, but the performance tonight says so much about this group of guys when they step on the field. So I’m extremely proud of their performance, their commitment and the never stop desire to be in front of the goal and challenge everything. It was tremendous and at some point I just think there was no way that they could withstand all the pressure that we had on them. The goal was going to come at some point. I commend the guys for their commitment for the 90-plus minutes, because it was a tremendous effort.

On the opposition…

I credit D.C. United for something and that is, they didn’t come just to pack it in. They came and tried to play tonight, and that’s rare when we play teams at home. So I commend them for coming in and playing and keeping the game entertaining and one in which they tried to do as well as they could do against us, and that’s appreciated for sure.

On the style of soccer…

In a way, I’m not surprised because it’s one of the things that they prepared on as well. Throughout the League, they play games where teams drop off and they just pack it in, so I liked the fact that they stuck to it here as well. I know when we went there the first game of the season, we didn’t sit back and drop it in. We went after the game as well, so like I said, I commend them for that. It’s good to see another team in the League doing it.

On being in first place with 10 games to play…

It’s just a good step in the right direction in pursuit of our goals in front of us. Next week, we keep playing a bunch of Eastern Conference teams and it’s going to be important for us to continue on this same vein. We’ll get after the next one but we’re in a good position now to keep the pressure on everyone else.

On having a full week’s rest ahead…

We’ll get a couple days off, but we’ll have good training. It’ll be great for everybody to have just a solid week of training, which we have not had in a while. So I’m looking forward to it because we still have things we need to work on. We all know that, and we’re going to keep trying to be better.

On finding a groove late in the season…

The season is very long in MLS, and sometimes it happens that you can ride away for a while, you can fall off the wave, but the big thing is how fast you get back on again. I think that, if anything, we never lost any confidence in ourselves. It’s just that sometimes things happen, the great thing is that we’ve figured it out, we’ve grinded out some results along the way. Even though we’ve lost here or there, we came back and got back into the form a little bit. But at the end, I think there’s a strong belief in the locker room with the guys that they know they can play and that they can be very competitive with any team in this League. And it’s about them being confident. It’s a confident group, but also you can’t take away the commitment to want to go and do it. A lot of teams want it, but they sit back and wait for it. These guys, they want it but they go after it.

On taking the front foot in the match…

You actually can go back to quite a few games, even here at home where we’ve either tied or lost, but we’ve actually crossed and outshot that team by double-digits. Sometimes this game is hard on you from that perspective because maybe you hit the post, maybe you miss the line by a little bit, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect what exactly your performance was. At the end, these guys have stayed committed to what we’ve been doing, and it’s really scary when you’re not creating chances, but we’re creating chances and we know that as we create them, eventually they’re going to go in.

On having Aurelien Collin back in defense…

He was a little out of rhythm to start out with. He started getting into it more. The one place he was really good with was set pieces. It was really good for us. We missed that. He was very good on attacking set pieces especially. It’s a lot for guys to handle and so he was solid there and I thought that he was solid in the air – him and Besler, very good in the back.

On the play of Neven Markovic…

I thought he was good, actually. I think he still needs to find his rhythm within the way we play, but athletically up and down the sideline, he’s hard, he’s connected to the game, he’s never going to walk off that field and give you less than 100 percent. So that’s a big step into this team, because all of our guys, when they’re out there, they play and give it their all. So for him to come out and give the performance that he did tonight is a great effort for sure.

Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury

On the team’s responding to Wednesday’s win…

I feel like we wanted to come out there, coming off a big win Wednesday, and we didn’t want to have that letdown coming in after a big win and winning the championship. So we were confident going in that we were going to put the same pressure that we knew that we were capable of doing and we went out there and got it done. When they tied the game back up we didn’t put our heads down, we knew we’d get a second goal, and we got the win.

On scoring for the second straight game…

Zusi tries to whip it in near post and I’m always the one usually who tries to make the first post run. I was just trying to lose my guy and it’s pretty rare when I score with my head, so I was pretty happy about that. It’s my job to put balls in the back of the net and the guys, we all worked for this, so tonight I’m really excited about that.

On the team sending multiple shots off the post…

I feel like the past few games we’ve been pretty unlucky with shots hitting the posts. We’re outshooting teams and the ball just isn’t going into the back of the net for some reason. But we got two in there tonight and we got the win, so it’s huge.

On Sporting Kansas City’s second goal…

I thought (Kei Kamara) was playing me. I didn’t even know Zusi was behind me, so I was mad after the ball went by me. But then I saw Zusi there and he made a great first touch and just kept it low and it went in.

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler

On Sporting KC’s 2-1 win over D.C. United, three days after their U.S. Open Cup triumph…

Good teams find a way to win every game. I think it was a tough challenge coming back from Wednesday’s emotional win, but tonight’s performance shows that we’re old and mature, and we’re right there with the best. Tonight didn’t feel like a let-down at all. We’re playing for first place. After New York won (last night) they jumped ahead of us, but we came into tonight knowing first place was in our hands if we took care of business. We came out, played really well and didn’t let them have a lot of space. We were all over them and it was a very complete performance from each of us.

On limiting D.C. United to very few chances throughout the game…

Our style of play leads to that kind of domination. We press teams hard, and although sometimes it’s not all the way up the field, we always make the other team uncomfortable. Whenever they come into our zones, we love to close and make a play on the ball as defenders.

On conceding a goal against the run of play in the 23rd minute…

It was a weird play. (Nick) DeLeon made a good run and (Andy) Nahar hit a great ball. I think we could have got better pressure on him, if you’re looking at what we could have done better there. In 90 minutes, that’s one of the few chances we gave up. It was kind of an ugly goal, but we got the win.

Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin

On Sporting KC’s 2-1 win over D.C. United…

It meant a lot for me to be back tonight. The team did a good job getting the win. What more can you ask? We could have scored a lot of goals, but in the end we won. It’s 100 percent deserved, and I am very proud of the team.

On decided to take off his protective mask just 10 minutes into the match…

A big part of my game is the header. So when I was making headers, the mask was going to the side (of my face). It was very uncomfortable. Basketball players can wear them but soccer players can’t, especially if you are a defender where you use your head so much. It hurts when you head the ball so I said ‘(Forget) it,’ and I took it off.

On returning to the starting XI…

My job tonight was to make the team more fresh. I was fresh because I didn’t play 120 minutes on Wednesday. Some players were more tired than I was, so I had to play well. We knew we had to make the most of our attacks, and if we ever looked tired, we wanted to just keep the ball and pass around between me and (Matt Besler).

Sporting Kansas City forward Kei Kamara

On Sporting KC’s 2-1 win over D.C. United…

It’s always great to come back after a huge win at home and get another huge win. There were moments in the game tonight where we lost focus a little bit, and those things could come back and hurt you if you play against a team that can make you pay and take chances. But overall, it was just good to get the three points and go first place.

On narrowly missing several goal scoring opportunities throughout the match…

When you’re getting a lot of chances and hitting the post, you’re definitely creating a lot. Sometimes a close miss motivates you even more, and it really gets the crowd making a lot of noise. That gets you going as a player. We knew we would keep going at DC United throughout the game, and we had the right attitude throughout.

On quickly recovering from an emotional U.S. Open Cup victory and earning another win…

What we’ve done has been great, but that’s in the past. As a team, as players, and as an organization, you have to focus forward and have the desire to celebrate like that again in the future. Obviously we’ve enjoyed this, but it’s also motivation to keep pushing and keep pushing. If we do that, we could have another celebration ahead of us. Everyone’s a professional on this team. Us veterans are there to motivate the younger guys and keep pushing them and making sure their heads are right. We just need to continue to get wins.

On Graham Zusi’s game-winning goal in the 63rd minute…

It was a great team play. Besler played me a great long ball and I tried to swing it into the middle. That’s straight off the practice field. Plays like that should be coming more often. It was great vision by Zusi to take that first touch and he smashed it in the back of the net. Big players like him need to step up at big times, and that’s what he did today.

D.C. United manager Ben Olsen



General thoughts on the match..

They were more physical and better on the ball. We had an off night. I will have to search for the reasons why we had an off night. I didn’t like much about the way we played.

On missing several key players out with injuries…

We missed a couple guys today, Daniel Woolard and Robbie Russell, the list goes on and on. But it’s still not an excuse for our performance. We didn’t cut it. My concern is the way this group played.

On the upcoming stretch of games and how the team will work to improve…

We have important games coming up. They all mean a lot down the stretch. We need to work on every area. Not one area today was very good. We need to get ahold of the ball a little bit better. They were better than us in every aspect. We will look at it and figure out the reasons why and look to fix our problems.

On Nick DeLeon’s rookie season…

Nick has had a good season. He did a good job on the goal tonight.  But we all needed to play better. Bill Hamid played well, but everyone else- there was more they could have done. There was more I could have done. But we are in this together and we will chalk it up.

On Sporting Kansas City’s strengths…

Kei Kamara gets in behind, which is not something you want to let happen. We weren’t very organized back there. But it was the whole build-up. We were fortunate enough to not have gone down more. It wasn’t one play that cost us the whole game. They outplayed us.



D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon



On his goal…

Andy [Najar] took one two or three guys and I saw him making his run. He played in a beautiful ball to me. The chance was created by him and it was well done. It is what it is.  Andy brings adifferent dynamic to the outside. He’s a good player going one-on-one.



On D.C. United’s faults tonight…

We were sitting back too much and not possessing the ball. We tried to go long. It’s fine to do that every once in a while but every time you don’t always get possession and they were coming right back at us.



On his successful rookie season…

I am working and trying to get better and not be complacent at where I’m at. I’m trying to get better at every game and practice- that’s my mentality.

D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid



On the loss…

It’s kind of a hard hit to the gut. We were in it for good portions of the game but unfortunately one small breakdown and we are walking away with no points.

On his performance in goal…

My job is to keep us in the game and right now that doesn’t matter because I didn’t make that best save that could have given us points. I was one save away from getting us points.

On the upcoming stretch of games…

We just have to stay focused. We are playing good soccer and we have been getting good results here and there. We just have to keep pushing up that ladder and taking games one at a time. 

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