Sporting Kansas City rolled to a 3-0 victory over rivals Real Salt Lake on Saturday at rain-drenched Children’s Mercy Park, extending their home unbeaten run to a club-record 13 MLS matches.
Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer and Gerso found the back of the net in a convincing performance that snapped a seven-game winless skid against Real Salt Lake (2-5-2, 8 points) and vaulted Sporting Kansas City (4-1-3, 15 points) to second place in the Western Conference. Goalkeeper Tim Melia lowered his goals against average to a miserly 0.38 with his league-leading fifth shutout of the season.
Incessant rain did little to dampen a blistering start from the hosts, who were rewarded for their early dominance with a brilliant goal in the 17th minute. Roger Espinoza’s delicately weighted diagonal ball found Graham Zusi, who played a square pass to Feilhaber from the right edge of the penalty area. The midfielder promptly unleashed a 20-yard strike that bent away from RSL goalkeeper Matt VanOekel and caromed in off the far left post.
Zusi, who recorded the 50th assist of his MLS regular season career on Feilhaber’s go-ahead stunner, created another opportunity just minutes later when he picked out Gerso 25 yards from goal, but VanOekel was equal to the Designated Player’s long-range bullet.
Real Salt Lake gathered their bearings midway through the opening period, as a quick throw-in led to a venomous volley from Luke Mulholland that whistled narrowly wide of frame. Just before the half-hour mark, Yura Movsisyan’s strike from distance deflected off teammate Joao Plata and into the net past Melia, but Plata was in an offside position and the goal was disallowed.
Gerso went close again in the 31st minute — cutting past defender Chris Schuler and blazing inches wide of the top shelf — then ignited a swift attack six minutes later that culminated in Jimmy Medranda’s teasing cross being deflected behind for a corner kick.
The visitors conjured two more threats before the break, which proved to be their final clear-cut chances of the evening. Shortly after Albert Rusnak’s thunderous 28-yard attempt sizzled just beyond Melia’s lefthand post, Joao Plata received a lob from Brooks Lennon and curled a shot inches over the crossbar.
Dwyer effectively sealed the result six minutes into the second half, outmuscling Chris Wingert to settle a long ball over the top from Matt Besler. The striker cut centrally and pulled the trigger with his weaker right foot from 20 yards, beating VanOekel with a turf-trimmer into the right corner. The goal was Dwyer’s team-leading third of the campaign, all of which have come over the last four games.
The hosts were unsatisfied with their two-goal cushion and nearly bagged a third in the 59th minute when Dwyer ran onto Feilhaber’s delectable through ball, but VanOekel had advanced off his line to make the block with his head on the edge of the box. The RSL goalkeeper would deny Dwyer again in the 75th minute following a clever feed from Medranda.
Gerso added gloss to the scoreline in the 95th minute, netting his second goal in as many home appearances. Substitute Soony Saad squeezed a through ball into the penalty area where Gerso rounded Van Oekel and poked the ball into an open net, giving a proper sendoff to the 91st consecutive sellout crowd in MLS competition.
Sporting Kansas City will have three days off before returning to Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday for an interconference clash with the New York Red Bulls (5-3-1, 16 points). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and tickets for the game are available at SeatGeek.com.
2017 MLS Regular Season
Game 8 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 18,648 (91st straight sellout)
Weather: 48 degrees and rainy
|Sporting Kansas City (4-1-3, 15 points)||1||2||3|
|Real Salt Lake (2-5-2, 8 points)||0||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C), Seth Sinovic; Roger Espinoza (Soni Mustivar 70), Ilie, Benny Feilhaber; Gerso, Dom Dwyer (Soony Saad 91+), Jimmy Medranda (Daniel Salloi 79)
Subs Not Used: Adrian Zendejas, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Kevin Ellis, Latif Blessing
Real Salt Lake: Matt VanOekel; Danilo Acosta (Sebastian Saucedo 71), Chris Wingert (C), Chris Schuler, Demar Phillips; Luke Mulholland (Jose Hernandez 85), Sunny, Albert Rusnak; Brooks Lennon, Yura Movsisyan (Luis Silva 60), Joao Plata
Subs Not Used: Lalo Fernandez, Justin Schmidt, Reagan Dunk, Omar Holness
|Shots on Goal||7||2|
RSL -- Luke Mulholland (caution; unsporting behavior) 39
SKC -- Benny Feilhaber (caution; unsporting behavior) 49
RSL -- Demar Phillips (caution; dissent) 51
RSL -- Yura Movsisyan (caution; unsporting behavior) 55
SKC -- Roger Espinoza (caution; unsporting behavior) 55
SKC -- Graham Zusi (caution; unsporting behavior) 69
SKC -- Gerso (caution; unsporting behavior) 84
RSL -- Brooks Lennon (caution; unsporting behavior) 85
SKC -- Benny Feilhaber 2 (Graham Zusi 2, Roger Espinoza 2) 17
SKC -- Dom Dwyer 3 (unassisted) 51
SKC -- Gerso 2 (Soony Saad 1) 95+
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Assistant Referee: Anthony Vasoli
Assistant Referee: Jose Da Silva
Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi