Sporting Kansas City battled LA Galaxy to a 0-0 draw Thursday night at StubHub Center, snapping the club’s two-game losing skid ahead of the Copa America Centenario break.
LA Galaxy entered the contest leading MLS with 27 goals, including 18 in six games at StubHub Center. However, Sporting Kansas City held the hosts to a single shot the entire game, their fewest in a regular season match in club history. Center back Ike Opara anchored the stout defensive effort, making his 50th career regular season start, while Tim Melia notched Sporting Kansas City’s first shutout in 11 games dating back to April 9.
The result keeps both teams where they started the evening in the Western Conference standings — Sporting Kansas City (5-8-3, 18 points) in eighth and LA Galaxy (5-2-6, 21 points) in fifth.
Manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the Sporting KC lineup from last Friday's 1-0 home defeat to D.C. United. Benny Feilhaber returned to the fold as a holding midfielder, and Connor Hallisey earned his first start since April 27 as part of a three-man attack alongside Dom Dwyer and Jacob Peterson.
While Bruce Arena's Galaxy side mustered zero shots in the first 45 minutes, Sporting Kansas City tallied six attempts of their own before halftime and nearly went ahead in the 40th minute. Captain Roger Espinoza played centrally to Paulo Nagamura, who slipped a perfectly weighted one-touch pass behind the defense to Dwyer. The Englishman let the ball roll onto his left side before pulling a low strike narrowly wide of goalkeeper Brian Rowe’s lefthand post.
Jimmy Medranda provided a spark from the left back position, showcasing his excellent technical ability over the course of the second half. The 22-year-old Colombian struck two venomous volleys on frame with his patented left boot, the first in the 49th minute and the second in the 68th, but both long-range efforts were saved by Rowe.
LA's lone shot attempt came in the 68th minute, an innocuous strike from Mike Magee that was blocked by Opara on the edge of the penalty area. At the other end, Medranda continued to ask questions of the Galaxy defense. His cross from the left wing found Chance Myers at the far post in the 76th minute, but the header sailed above the woodwork.
Feilhaber was at the focal point of Sporting Kansas City's next scoring opportunity, firing on goal from a near-impossible angle along the right endline. Rowe was forced to palm the stinging shot over the crossbar and out of play, and the visitors nearly cashed in on the ensuing corner kick. Feilhaber delivered it low to Medranda, who flashed a teasing ball across the face of goal that went untouched and just wide of the post. Thursday marked just the third scoreless draw between the clubs in 57 regular season meetings all-time.
The 2016 MLS season now enters a two-week break as the 2016 Copa America Centenario takes center stage. Sporting KC's Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are with the U.S. Men's National Team for Friday's tournament opener against Colombia in Santa Clara, California, while Soni Mustivar and Haiti begin play Saturday against Peru in Seattle. No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.) will host watch parties for every match during the Copa America, offering complimentary appetizers to fans who sign up and order pitchers of beer.
Sporting Kansas City will return to the field June 15 when the club begins its defense of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Minnesota United FC of the North American Soccer League. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and away ticket information can be found at skcawaytickets.com.
2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 16 of 34
StubHub Center | Carson, California
Weather: 70 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City (5-8-3, 18 pts)||0||0||0|
|LA Galaxy (5-2-6, 21 pts)||0||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara, Lawrence Olum, Jimmy Medranda; Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber, Roger Espinoza (C); Jacob Peterson (Chance Myers 58), Dom Dwyer (Diego Rubio 92+), Connor Hallisey
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Seth Sinovic, Amadou Dia, Justin Mapp, Jordi Quintilla
LA Galaxy: Brian Rowe; Robbie Rogers, A.J. DeLaGarza, Daniel Steres, Ashley Cole; Baggio Husidic, Nigel de Jong, Jeff Larentowicz (Emmanuel Boateng 62), Sebastian Lletget (Jose Villarreal 87); Mike Magee (Alan Gordon 81), Giovani dos Santos
Subs Not Used: Dan Kennedy, Jelle Van Damme, Leonardo, Rafael Garcia
|Shots on Goal||4||0|
LA -- Jeff Larentowicz (caution; unsporting behavior) 39
LA -- Daniel Steres (caution; unsporting behavior) 49
SKC -- Dom Dwyer (caution; unsporting behavior) 51