Sporting Kansas City’s seven-game unbeaten run was snapped following a 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Forward Teal Bunbury scored in the 44th minute to separate the sides and hand Western Conference leaders Sporting KC (5-2-2, 17 points) their fourth straight road loss at Gillette Stadium. New England (4-2-2, 14 points) jumped to third place in the East with the victory as Manager Peter Vermes’ men suffered defeat for the first time since falling on March 4 in their season opener. Despite the setback, Sporting KC ends the month of April four points clear at the top of the Western Conference table.
Vermes made one change to his starting lineup from last Friday’s record-setting 6-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, with Ike Opara reprising his role in central defense after a one-game absence through illness. Fellow center back and captain Matt Besler notably started his 229th regular season match for the club, moving into sole possession of first place in Kansas City history.
The visitors took just 10 seconds to create their first opportunity of the night. Midfielder Yohan Croizet ran onto Khiry Shelton’s flick-on header and pelted a volley on the edge of the box, forcing New England goalkeeper Matt Turner into a sprawling near-post save.
The early chance preceded an otherwise pedestrian first half hour, with New England unable to carve out an opening until the 27th minute when Cristian Penilla’s strike that fizzed narrowly over the crossbar. Goalkeeper Tim Melia intervened crucially three minutes later, racing off his line to smother a deflected cross from the left wing that almost fell to Teal Bunbury near the penalty spot.
Both sides exchanged near misses from long range in the 40th minute. Croizet’s left-footed bomb swerved marginally wide before Gabriel Somi’s sledgehammer missed the upper right corner by a matter of inches.
On the cusp of halftime, New England took a 1-0 lead in auspicious fashion. Bunbury was initially flagged offside after slotting low past Melia from eight yards, but referee Dave Gantar used video review to overturn the call and award the goal after Sporting KC’s Roger Espinoza was deemed to have poked the ball through to Bunbury. The play gave Bunbury his fourth goal in five games and his fourth against Sporting KC since leaving Kansas City for New England in 2014.
Neither team mustered a second-half shot attempt until the 62nd minute when Melia sprawled low to corral a speculative shot from Penilla. Sporting KC went agonizingly close to pulling level less than a minute later, but Johnny Russell’s low drive through traffic was cleared off the goal line by Andrew Farrell.
Melia produced his best save of the match on 67 minutes, diving right at full extension to thwart Wilfried Zahibo’s 22-yard effort. The stop kept Sporting KC’s deficit at 1-0, allowing Vermes’ side to nearly restore parity in the 84th minute. Shelton’s powerful header off a pinpoint Ike Opara cross had Turner beat but bounced wide of frame.
Sporting KC’s final bid for an equalizer fell to substitute Kharlton Belmar, who entered the evening as the United Soccer League’s leading scorer with seven goals the Swope Park Rangers. Belmar latched onto a Graham Zusi corner kick in the 94th minute and snapped a header over the bar, effectively serving as the final play of the night.
Next Saturday will see Sporting KC return to Children's Mercy Park for a showdown with the Colorado Rapids (2-2-2, 8 points) at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the Cinco de Mayo matchup are available via SeatGeek.com, and the first 10,000 fans through the stadium gates will receive a Matt Besler bobblehead courtesy of match sponsor Mainstreet Credit Union.
2018 MLS Regular Season
Game 9 of 34
Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Massachusetts
Weather: 62 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City (5-2-2, 17 points)||0||0||0|
|New England Revolution (4-2-2, 14 points)||1||0||1|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C), Jimmy Medranda (Kharlton Belmar 77); Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Yohan Croizet (Seth Sinovic 63); Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi (Diego Rubio 82)
Subs Not Used: Eric Dick, Emiliano Amor, Colton Storm, Cristian Lobato
New England Revolution: Matt Turner; Andrew Farrell, Jalil Anibaba, Claude Dielna (C), Gabriel Somi; Wilfried Zahibo, Cristian Penilla, Luis Caicedo, Diego Fagundez (Scott Caldwell 83), Juan Agudelo (Krisztian Nemeth 72); Teal Bunbury (Brandon Bye 90)
Subs Not Used: Brad Knighton, Chris Tierney, Antonio Delamea, Zachary Herivaux
NE -- Teal Bunbury 4 (unassisted) 44
NE -- Diego Fagundez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 48+
SKC -- Khiry Shelton (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 76
NE -- Gabriel Somi (yellow card; time wasting) 77
|Shots on Goal||4||7|
Referee: Dave Gantar
Assistant Referee: Philippe Briere
Assistant Referee: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
Fourth Official: Drew Fischer
VAR: Geoff Gamble