Beyond the Box Score: Sporting's California reign ends at the death

As the age-old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

For Sporting Kansas City, that term was applicable in multiple contexts on Sunday night in a last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Los Angeles Football Club to open the 2019 MLS campaign.

First off, Sporting were a perfect 10-0-0 during the 2018 regular season when leading at halftime. Such was the case on Sunday, as the visitors held a 1-0 edge at the interval on Krisztian Nemeth's 16th-minute strike, his third in as many games.

LAFC rallied, however, drawing level on 47 minutes through Diego Rossi before substitute Adama Diomande bagged a dramatic winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Secondly, an impressive streak against Major League Soccer's three California clubs finally came to an end after nearly three years.

Entering Week 1 of 2019, Sporting had gone 10-0-5 in their last 15 regular-season meetings against the league's three California teams—namely LAFC, the LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes. More impressively, this reign of dominance included a 5-0-2 stretch on Californian soil that saw Sporting post five shutouts and outscore their counterparts 13-3.

SPORTING VS. CALIFORNIA CLUBS SINCE JUNE 2016
(MLS REGULAR SEASON)

Date Opponent Result
05/01/2016 LA GALAXY T 1-1
06/02/2016 at LA Galaxy T 0-0
09/18/2016 LA GALAXY T 2-2
09/24/2016 at San Jose Earthquakes W 2-1
10/23/2016 SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES W 2-0
03/18/2017 SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES W 2-1
06/17/2017 at San Jose Earthquakes T 0-0
06/24/2017 at LA Galaxy W 2-1
09/24/2017 LA GALAXY W 2-1
03/17/2018 SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES W 3-2
04/08/2018 at LA Galaxy W 2-0
08/11/2018 at LAFC W 2-0
09/15/2018 at San Jose Earthquakes W 5-1
10/06/2018 LA GALAXY T 1-1
10/28/2018 LAFC W 2-1
03/03/2019 at LAFC L 1-2

"I don’t think it was a lack of effort," Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said after the narrow defeat. "I think we made some poor decisions during the course of the game. Credit to [LAFC]. They forced some of those decisions. They had some good moments in the game. We had good moments too, but we gave away a little too much in certain situations. And then when we had a chance to break them, we needed to finish them off, and we didn’t."

Fortunately for Sporting, they will have an almost immediate opportunity to bounce back. The club embarks on a 3,000-mile flight from Los Angeles to Panama on Monday ahead of Wednesday's crucial first leg of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals against Independiente at Estadio Agustin Sanchez in La Chorrera (7 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com, Univision Deportes).

This six-hour flight marks the final trip of an unprecedented road swing in which Sporting will play three away matches in three different countries in three different time zones. Last Thursday, the club won its first-ever game in Mexico with a 2-0 hammering of Toluca to secure a 5-0 aggregate triumph in the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16.

First published on Friday, below is a look at Sporting's length travel log over the course of the last two and a half weeks. Their spell of three away games in a single week marks just the third such occurrence in team history, following similarly busy but far less travel-heavy stretches in 1999 and 2006.

Sporting Kansas City Travel Log: Feb. 18 – March 7, 2019

Date

Flight

Note

Distance

Running Total

Feb. 18

Phoenix to KC

Team returns from preseason training

1,040 miles

1,040 miles

Feb. 23

KC to Albuquerque

Team heads to New Mexico for altitude training prior to Toluca visit

720 miles

1,760 miles

Feb. 27

Albuquerque to Toluca, MX

Team travels to Mexico for Champions League

1,170 miles

2,930 miles

March 1

Toluca, MX to Los Angeles

Team head to LA for MLS season opener

1,530 miles

4,460 miles

March 4

Los Angeles to Panama City, PA

Team heads back south in longest flight of the entire road trip

3,010 miles

7,470 miles

March 7

Panama City, PA to Kansas City

Team finally returns home

2,290 miles

9,760 miles

By the Numbers: Sporting’s Unprecedented Travel Stretch

  • 18 – The time period covers 18 days, running from Feb. 18 to March 7.
  • – Sporting will have taken six separate flights during this time.
  • – Sporting spends just four full days in Kansas City during this stretch.
  • 4 – Sporting plays four matches during this spell, including two against Toluca and one each against LAFC and Independiente.
  • – Sporting’s three away matches during the stretch take place in three different time zones (Toluca in Central, LAFC in Pacific and Independiente in Eastern).
  • 9,760 – The approximate mileage covered from Feb. 18 to March 7.

Below is a look at all three occasions in which Sporting have played three away games in seven days. The club has played three road matches in eight days on several occasions (Saturday to Wednesday to Saturday, for example), but hardly ever have they faced three roadies in the space of a single week.

Date

Match 1

Match 2

Match 3

Sept. 4-10, 1999

at San Jose
Sat., Sept. 4

at New England
Tue., Sept. 7

at Colorado
Fri., Sept. 10

Aug. 14-19, 2006

at Chicago (Open Cup)
Mon., Aug. 14

at Chicago
Wed., Aug. 16

at Chivas USA
Sat., Aug. 19

Feb. 28 – March 6, 2019

at Toluca (SCCL)
Thu., Feb. 28

at LAFC
Sun., March 3

at Independiente
Wed., March 6

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