Recap: Sporting KC jumps to fourth in Western Conference with dominant 3-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC

Sporting Kansas City (9-10-4, 31 points) vaulted to fourth place in the MLS Western Conference with a dominant 3-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday at sold-out Children’s Mercy Park. Dom Dwyer netted twice and Jacob Peterson scored an excellent goal of his own as a rampant Sporting Kansas City side held Seattle (6-12-2, 20 points) to a single shot attempt, tied for the fewest in a single game in MLS history.

The resounding performance extended Sporting Kansas City’s unbeaten run against Sounders FC to five matches and saw Dwyer become the third player in club history to reach 10 goals in three separate regular seasons. The result lifts Manager Peter Vermes’ men from seventh to fourth in the West with 11 regular season matches still to play. Ninth-place Seattle, meanwhile, is 10 points off the pace in the Western Conference playoff race.

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Winger Graham Zusi earned his 150th regular season start for Sporting Kansas City after missing the previous two games with a pulled hamstring. He replaced the injured Brad Davis as the lone change from last Saturday's setup in a 1-0 defeat at the Colorado Rapids. New additions Emmanuel Appiah and Cameron Porter were included in the matchday 18 for the first time, and Porter would make his club debut in the 76th minute with the result all but secure.

A suffocating first-half salvo unfolded as Sporting Kansas City enjoyed 72 percent possession and outshot Seattle 9-0. Peterson was on the receiving end of the game’s first scoring opportunity in the 6th minute, racing onto a clever diagonal pass played by Benny Feilhaber. The forward settled the ball and fired to the near post from the right side of the box, but Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei made a superb save with his left hand to keep his side level. Espinoza tried his luck from distance two minutes later, but the left-footed blast screamed narrowly wide of Frei’s lefthand post.

Sporting Kansas City’s thorough control of proceedings paid off in the 21st minute when Dwyer’s clinical header capped off a brilliant eight-pass sequence. The incisive move ended with Zusi playing wide to Espinoza, whose cross from the right edge of the penalty area was nodded home by the 25-year-old Englishman. Dwyer tallied his team-leading ninth goal of 2016 on the play, while Espinoza tied his MLS career high with his fourth assist of the season.

The hosts suffered a setback in the 41st minute, however, when Zusi reaggravated his hamstring. Connor Hallisey filled in for the remainder of the afternoon and nearly scored before the break, but Frei palmed his breakaway effort over the bar.

Peterson effectively sealed the win with a stunning finish in the third minute of first-half stoppage time. Abdul-Salaam galloped down the right side and delivered a perfect cut-back pass from the byline, allowing Peterson to shoot across goal and into the upper left corner from 15 yards. The play gave Abdul-Salaam his team-leading fifth assist of 2016, while Peterson netted his second goal of the campaign.

Vermes’ side maintained their stranglehold in the second period, though Jimmy Medranda was forced to make a fantastic defensive intervention three minutes after the restart. Jordan Morris slipped a through ball to Clint Dempsey who was nearly through on goal, but the diminutive Colombian slid to win the ball inside the box and prevent the U.S. international from testing goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Sporting Kansas City went agonizingly close to netting a third goal on four occasions between the 61st and 67th minutes. Dwyer’s cleanly struck curler to the top left corner was touched away by the diving Frei before Medranda sent a long-range missile a foot wide of the woodwork. Hallisey almost opened his MLS scoring account yet again, steering a shot inches clear following Peterson’s lovely feed across the face of goal. Peterson’s bid for his first MLS brace fell short when he dragged a low strike just beyond Frei’s righthand post.

A tireless shift from Peterson ended in the 76th minute when he made way for Porter, who earned his Sporting Kansas City debut after signing from the Montreal Impact on July 12. Dwyer would add a deserved third in the 79th minute, intercepting a stray back pass and slotting low past Frei to record his eighth career multi-goal game in the regular season, tied for most in club history.

Seattle avoided becoming the first MLS team to go an entire match without a shot when Joevin Jones’s wayward attempt failed to test Melia. Sporting Kansas City is the first team in league history to hold a team to a single shot twice in the same season, having previously done so in a 0-0 draw at the LA Galaxy on June 2.

Back-to-back matches against the defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers (7-7-8, 29 points) await Sporting Kansas City over the next fortnight. The pivotal swing begins next Sunday when Vermes' men host Caleb Porter's side at 1 p.m. CT on FOX. Sporting KC will then travel to seventh-place Portland the following weekend, rounding out a two-game set that could ultimately go a long way in shaping the Western Conference playoff picture. A limited number of tickets for next Sunday's marquee matchup are still available via Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.

2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 23 of 34

Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 18,563 (82nd straight sellout)
Weather: 93 degrees and partly cloudy

SportingKC.com Links
Watch: Dom Dwyer scores his first (21')
Watch: Jacob Peterson scores spectacular second (45+3')
Watch: Dwyer seals victory with final goal (79')
Final: Full highlights

Score 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (9-10-4, 31 pts) 2 1 3
Seattle Sounders FC (6-12-2, 20 pts) 0 0 0

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Saad Abdul-Salaam (Seth Sinovic 85), Ike Opara, Lawrence Olum, Jimmy Medranda; Benny Feilhaber, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza (C); Jacob Peterson (Cameron Porter 77), Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi (Connor Hallisey 41)
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Kevin Ellis, Emmanuel Appiah, Diego Rubio

Seattle Sounders FC: Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans (C), Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Cristian Roldan, Erik Friberg (Tony Alfaro 46), Clint Dempsey; Herculez Gomez (Zach Scott 46), Jordan Morris, Andreas Ivanschitz (Michael Farfan 64)
Subs Not Used: Tyler Miller, Oniel Fisher, Nelson Valdez, Oalex Anderson

Stats SKC SEA
Shots 19 1
Shots on Goal 6 0
Saves 0 3
Fouls 7 5
Offside 2 2
Corner Kicks 4 0

Misconduct Summary:
SKC -- Roger Espinoza (caution; unsporting behavior) 23
SEA -- Herculez Gomez (caution; unsporting behavior) 43
SEA -- Joevin Jones (caution; unsporting behavior) 57
SKC -- Soni Mustivar (caution; unsporting behavior) 65

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Dom Dwyer 9 (Roger Espinoza 4, Graham Zusi 4) 21
SKC -- Jacob Peterson 2 (Saad Abdul-Salaam 5, Ike Opara 2) 45+3
SKC -- Dom Dwyer 10 (unassisted) 79