Sporting Kansas City used first-half goals from Daniel Salloi and Diego Rubio to claim a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on Sunday afternoon at sunny Children’s Mercy Park, moving within a point of first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.
The victory pushes Sporting Kansas City’s home unbeaten run to 24 regular season matches dating back to June 2016 — now the third-longest streak in MLS history — ahead of next Saturday’s all-important showdown with first-place Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Children’s Mercy Park.
LA (7-17-6, 27 points) pulled a goal back through Romain Alessandrini’s superb free kick near the hour-mark, but the Galaxy were unable to conjure an equalizer and saw their winless drought in Kansas City hit 10 games spanning a full decade. Sporting KC (12-6-11, 47 points) has avoided defeat in six straight meetings against LA and remains the only MLS club without a home loss in 2017.
Four days removed from lifting the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title behind a 2-1 triumph over the New York Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City fielded another formidable lineup Sunday. Manager Peter Vermes made just three changes to his lineup from Wednesday, replacing midfielder Benny Feilhaber with Jimmy Medranda while deploying wingers Salloi and Cristian Lobato in place of Gerso and Latif Blessing.
The hosts were first to threaten in the eighth minute when a flowing move through the middle resulted with Seth Sinovic feeding Rubio for a thumping finish into the roof of the net, but the offside flag was raised and the goal was disallowed. At the opposite end, Giovani dos Santos cut past Graham Zusi on the left side of the box and fired a shot straight at goalkeeper Tim Melia in the 13th minute. Not long later, Alessandrini raced onto a clever diagonal ball from Ashley Cole and forced Melia into another stop at the near post.
Salloi landed Sporting Kansas City’s first punch in the 18th minute, latching onto an excellent Rubio cross from the right wing and poking home past goalkeeper Clement Diop. The goal was Salloi’s second in as many games — having scored the winner in Wednesday’s Open Cup Final — while Zusi was credited with his team-leading ninth assist of 2017 in all competitions and the 69th of his club career.
Rubio, who tallied his second assist of 2017 on Salloi’s opener, turned scorer in the 35th minute to cap a sensational buildup involving multiple players. Ilie’s incisive through ball was perfectly weighted down the left channel to Sinovic, who squared the ball to Rubio for the simplest of finishes into a gaping net. Rubio’s goal was his fifth in seven MLS starts this season and gave both Sinovic and Ilie their second assists of the year.
The visitors responded positively after the break, sparked by Alessandrini’s dangerous involvement in the attacking third. The Frenchman had a strike palmed away in the 54th minute, not long before his deflected effort was headed safely over the crossbar by Ike Opara.
Alessandrini would make no mistake in the 58th minute, however, bending a wonderful 20-yard free kick just inside the left post for his team-best 10th goal of the MLS campaign.
Zusi almost restored Sporting KC’s two-goal cushion in the 65th minute, but his blistering blast from the right side of the box was saved well by the sprawling Diop. The Galaxy keeper crucially intervened yet again five minutes later, blocking Salloi’s low attempt after the 21-year-old had cleanly dispossessed U.S. international Gyasi Zardes.
Salloi asked one last question of the LA defense in the 77th minute, collecting a sumptuous through ball from substitute Feilhaber and cutting past center back Michael Ciani, but the homegrown forward was unable to put his right-footed shot on target.
Sporting Kansas City will rest and recover from a busy albeit successful week before turning their attention to next Saturday’s mouthwatering clash versus Vancouver (14-9-6, 48 points) at Children’s Mercy Park. The matchup will kick off at 8 p.m. CT and tickets are available via SeatGeek.com.
2017 MLS Regular Season
Game 29 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 86 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City (12-6-11, 47 points)||2||0||2|
|LA Galaxy (7-17-6, 27 points)||0||1||1|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C) (Erik Palmer-Brown 94+), Seth Sinovic; Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Jimmy Medranda (Benny Feilhaber 63); Cristian Lobato (Gerso 75), Diego Rubio, Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: Andrew Dykstra, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Kevin Oliveira, Latif Blessing
LA Galaxy: Clement Diop; Gyasi Zardes, Dave Romney, Michael Ciani, Ashley Cole; Jonathan dos Santos, Joao Pedro (Rafael Garcia 31); Romain Alessandrini, Bradford Jamieson IV (Jack McBean 82), Emmanuel Boateng (Ariel Lassiter 75); Giovani dos Santos (C)
Subs Not Used: Jon Kempin, Nathan Smith, Hugo Arellano, Jack McInerney
|Shots on Goal||6||4|
LA -- Jonathan dos Santos (caution; unsporting behavior) 1
LA -- Michael Ciani (caution; unsporting behavior) 55
LA -- Jack McBean (caution; unsporting behavior) 92
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 3 (Diego Rubio 2, Graham Zusi 7) 18
SKC -- Diego Rubio 5 (Seth Sinovic 2, Ilie 2) 35
LA -- Romain Alessandrini 10 (unassisted) 58
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referee: Nick Uranga
Assistant Referee: C.J. Morgante
Fourth Official: Armando Villarreal
VAR: Alex Chilowicz