Recap: Sporting KC falls 2-0 to New York City FC in 2018 opener

Sporting Kansas City (0-1-0, 0 points) suffered their first home-opening defeat since 2009 on Sunday night, falling 2-0 to New York City FC (1-0-0, 3 points) before a capacity crowd at Children’s Mercy Park. Maxi Moralez struck in the 32nd minute and MLS debutant Jesus Medina doubled the visitors’ lead eight minutes into the second half as Sporting KC sustained just their third all-time loss in a home opener.

With Sunday’s curtain raiser in the books, Sporting Kansas City will look to bounce back Saturday when the club visits Chicago Fire for a 5 p.m. CT kickoff at Toyota Park, airing live on FOX Sports Kansas City.

Three MLS newcomers highlighted Manager Peter Vermes’ starting lineup, as midfielder Felipe Gutierrez and wingers Yohan Croizet and Johnny Russell donned Sporting KC uniforms for the first time after arriving from abroad as high-profile offseason signings. Elsewhere, Roger Espinoza notably made his 200th MLS appearance for the club (including playoffs).

New York City FC were first to threaten in the 17th minute when Alexander Ring unleashed a thunderous effort from long range, but reigning 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia sprawled left at full extension to push the ball away. Sporting KC conjured a quick response at the opposite end as Espinoza’s glancing header off a Graham Zusi corner kick skipped inches wide of the post.

Two fresh faces combined to create Sporting KC’s next opportunity on the half-hour mark. A delightful ball over the top from Gutierrez was perfectly weighted for Croizet, but the Frenchman’s one-time volley dragged a yard beyond goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s left-hand post.

The hosts were left to rue the miss two minutes later when New York City FC landed the first punch. David Villa entered Sunday as the league’s top scorer over the last three seasons but turned provider for NYCFC’s breakthrough, picking out Maxi Moralez from the left side of the box for a simple finish from close range.

Sporting Kansas City’s deficit doubled in the 53rd minute, marking just the second time since the start of 2017 that the club had conceded twice at Children’s Mercy Park. Midfielder Yangel Herrera spread the ball wide left to Ben Sweat, whose precise cross into the box was settled by the 20-year-old Medina near the penalty spot and tucked into the right corner of the net.

Vermes’ men would push forward late in a bid to rally, but not before Melia produced an excellent stop to deny Villa on the breakaway in the 70th minute. The play came two minutes after Sporting KC substitute Daniel Salloi made a quick impact off the bench with a low drive through traffic that forced Johnson into a save of his own.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Jon Freemon was called into action twice in the late stages, first when Geiger overturned a penalty kick he had originally awarded to Sporting KC when Salloi tumbled in the box in the 79th minute. Seven minutes later, Geiger waved play to continue after Maxime Chanot hauled down Gerso Fernandes from behind just outside the 18-yard area. Upon video review, Chanot was given a foul and received a straight red card for the denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

On the ensuing set piece, Gutierrez’s cleanly struck free kick was tipped onto the crossbar by Johnson, adding a bitter sting to a night marred by frustration for Sporting KC. Shortly thereafter, Russell swiveled and shot off a feed from Zusi, but Sebastien Ibeagha was positioned to block the goal-bound attempt.

2018 MLS Regular Season
Game 1 of 34

Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 20,831
Weather: 58 degrees and cloudy

Score 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (0-1-0, 0 points) 0 0 0
New York City FC (1-0-0, 3 points) 1 1 2

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C), Cristian Lobato (Jimmy Medranda 73); Felipe Gutierrez, Ilie, Roger Espinoza; Yohan Croizet (Gerso Fernandes 57), Diego Rubio (Daniel Salloi 62), Johnny Russell
Subs Not Used: Adrian Zendejas, Emiliano Amor, Jaylin Lindsey, Seth Sinovic

New York City FC: Sean Johnson; Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm; Alexander Ring, Yangel Herrera, Jesus Medina (Ismael Tajouri 69), Maximiliano Moralez (Sebastien Ibeagha 89), Rodney Wallace; David Villa (C) (Ronald Matarrita 85)
Subs Not Used: Brad Stuver, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Kwame Awuah, Tommy McNamara

Shots 18 11
Shots on Goal 3 5
Saves 3 3
Fouls 8 14
Offsides 3 2
Corner Kicks 9 3

Misconduct Summary:
NYC -- Jesus Medina (yellow card; not retreating) 23
NYC -- Alexander Ring (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 34
NYC -- Sean Johnson (yellow card; time wasting) 59
NYC -- Maxime Chanot (red card; denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity) 88

Scoring Summary:
NYC -- Maximiliano Moralez 1 (David Villa 1, Jesus Medina 1) 32
NYC -- Jesus Medina 1 (Ben Sweat 1, Yangel Herrera 1) 53

Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referee: Frank Anderson
Assistant Referee: Kyle Atkins
Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi
VAR: Jon Freemon