Beyond The Box Score: Sporting strike sensational seven in scintillating win over Montreal

In the immortal words of legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy, “That escalated quickly.”

Johnny Russell drew first blood. Krisztian Nemeth made it two. Felipe Gutierrez landed the third hammer blow just before halftime.

By no means would it end there. Sporting Kansas City were just getting started.

By the time referee Nima Saghafi blew his whistle to signal the end of the game and put the Montreal Impact out of their misery, Sporting had posted a record-breaking 7-1 victory to the delight of a fervent Children’s Mercy Park crowd that braved morning snow showers to take in the biggest goal fest in club history.

Even mother nature seemed to notice, as the grey Kansas City sky gradually gave way to sunshine—not to mention an absolute downpour of goals.

Saturday’s offensive explosion saw Manager Peter Vermes’ men score a touchdown and add an extra point, reaching the seven-goal milestone for the first time in the team’s 24-year existence. The red-hot Nemeth bagged a hat-trick, Russell struck twice and Gutierrez was joined in the scoring act by a 16-year-old who continues to perform beyond his years.

More on Gianluca Busio’s incredible accomplishment in a moment, but first let’s look at what pops off the page the most: Sporting not only hit seven for the first time in a competitive match—and the sixth time in MLS regular season history—but they also equaled the club record for largest margin of victory and handed Montreal their heaviest all-time defeat.

Sporting fell just a goal shy of tying the MLS record for most goals by one team in a match, set over 20 years ago by the LA Galaxy.

MOST GOALS BY ONE TEAM IN A MATCH
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)

Goals Date Club Result
8 06/04/1998 LA Galaxy W 8-1 at FC Dallas
7 05/06/1998 LA Galaxy W 7-4 vs. Colorado Rapids
7 07/04/2001 Chicago Fire W 7-0 at Sporting Kansas City
7 05/21/2016 New York Red Bulls W 7-0 at New York City FC
7 09/13/2017 Atlanta United FC W 7-0 vs. New England Revolution
7 03/30/2019 Sporting KC W 7-1 vs. Montreal Impact

SPORTING KC: MOST GOALS IN A MATCH
(ALL COMPETITIONS, ALL-TIME)

Date Result Competition
03/30/2019 W 7-1 vs. Montreal Impact MLS regular season
05/02/1996 W 6-4 vs. Columbus Crew SC MLS regular season
06/21/1997 W 6-1 vs. D.C. United MLS regular season
06/20/1999 W 6-0 vs. New York Red Bulls MLS regular season
08/03/2005 W 6-1 vs. Des Moines Menace U.S. Open Cup
07/01/2015 W 6-2 vs. FC Dallas U.S. Open Cup
04/20/2018 W 6-0 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC MLS regular season

After going almost 14 years without scoring five or more goals in an MLS regular season match (July 2004 to April 2018, to be exact), Sporting have now done it three times in the last 11 months. That includes Saturday's beatdown as well as a 6-0 thrashing of Vancouver last April and a 5-1 triumph in San Jose last September.

These are the types of things that can happen when a team rolls out a potent and relentless frontline. Indeed, Nemeth, Russell and two-assist standout Gerso Fernandes had an insatiable appetite to score and create goals on Saturday. And it just so happens that these three players have accounted for Sporting's last three regular season hat-tricks dating back to 2017.

Gerso hit Seattle for three in May 2017, Russell had a treble against Vancouver last year and Nemeth became the club's eighth hat-trick hero in the MLS regular season on Saturday. Birahim Diop's 2010 breakout had long stood as Kansas City's most recent hat-trick, but that was only before Sporting's technical staff had built the formidable attack it boasts today.

SPORTING KC HAT-TRICK HEROES
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)

Player Date Opponent Result
Vitalis Takawira 05/16/1998 at New England Revolution W 3-1
Preki 09/05/1998 vs. San Jose Earthquakes W 5-1
Davy Arnaud 07/03/2004 vs. FC Dallas W 5-1
Eddie Johnson 05/26/2007 at New England Revolution W 4-3
Eddie Johnson 06/02/2007 vs. New York Red Bulls W 3-2
Birahim Diop 10/23/2010 vs. San Jose Earthquakes W 4-1
Gerso Fernandes 05/17/2017 vs. Seattle Sounders FC W 3-0
Johnny Russell 04/20/2018 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC W 6-0
Krisztian Nemeth 03/30/2019 vs. Montreal Impact W 7-1

Special plaudits go to Nemeth, who has opened 2019 as one of the most prolific players in MLS. He has eight goals in seven appearances across all competitions—four in MLS and four in the Champions League. The Hungarian now has 25 career goals in 50 competitive appearances (39 starts) for Sporting, good for a goal every other game. Among the 10 other clubs Nemeth has played for throughout his career, the only other team for which he has scored at such a clip was Qatari side Al-Gharafa from 2016-2017.

Nemeth wasn't the lone star on Saturday, of course. An ensemble cast of standouts included Russell, who had a brace and an assist. In doing so, this became just the fourth time in Kansas City's regular season history that two teammates have scored twice in a match. Omar Bravo and Kei Kamara were the first duo to accomplish the feat during the Children's Mercy Park era in 2011.

SPORTING KC: BRACES BY TEAMMATES IN SAME MATCH
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)

Date Players Result
05/02/1996 Preki (2) and Mo Johnston (2) W 6-4 vs. Columbus Crew SC
08/04/1996 Mark Chung (2) and Vitalis Takawira (2) W 4-2 at D.C. United
07/23/2011 Omar Bravo (2) and Kei Kamara (2) W 4-2 vs. Toronto FC
03/30/2019 Krisztian Nemeth (3) and Johnny Russell (2) W 7-1 vs. Montreal Impact

Yet another player who demanded the spotlight in Saturday's historic performance. That would be 16-year-old Gianluca Busio, who made an undeniable impact upon entering as a substitute for two-assist man Roger Espinoza in the 62nd minute. Not for the first time, the U.S. youth international played with palpable quality at the MLS level and in the 78th minute, he blew the proverbial lid off Children's Mercy Park.

It was then that the burgeoning Busio put his fresh legs to use, dispossessing defender Victor Cabrera and firing past Montreal keeper Evan Bush to etch his name as the youngest MLS scorer in the nine-year history of the stadium.

The 16-year-old Busio is the ninth different teenager to score a club goal at Children's Mercy Park. The complete list is below and consists of all club competitions plus club friendlies, which puts Busio at No. 2 behind Alphonso Davies. The former Vancouver player was 15 when he scored against Sporting in the 2016-17 Concacaf Champions League group stage. Keep in mind that the table does not account for international matches played at the venue.

TEENAGERS TO SCORE A CLUB GOAL
CHILDREN'S MERCY PARK HISTORY (2011-PRESENT)

Date Player Age Club Result Competition
09/13/2016 Alphonso Davies 15 years, 316 days Vancouver Whitecaps FC W 2-1 vs. Sporting KC Concacaf Champions League
03/30/2019 Gianluca Busio 16 years, 306 days Sporting KC W 7-1 vs. Montreal Impact MLS Regular Season
07/23/2014 Kelechi Iheanacho 17 years, 293 days Manchester City W 4-1 vs. Sporting KC Friendly
10/12/2011 Erick Torres 18 years, 266 days Guadalajara T 2-2 vs. Sporting KC Friendly
08/17/2011 Soony Saad 19 years Sporting KC W 3-1 vs. Portland Timbers MLS Regular Season
04/02/2016 Justen Glad 19 years, 34 days Real Salt Lake W 2-1 vs. Sporting KC MLS Regular Season
10/12/2011 Soony Saad 19 years, 56 days Sporting KC T 2-2 vs. Guadalajara Friendly
10/19/2016 Nansel Selbol 19 years, 141 days Sporting KC W 3-1 vs. Central FC Concacaf Champions League
06/03/2018 Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal 19 years, 262 days Sporting KC W 4-1 vs. Minnesota United FC MLS Regular Season
05/29/2012 Soony Saad 19 years, 286 days Sporting KC W 3-2 vs. Orlando City SC Open Cup
07/01/2015 Kelyn Acosta 19 years, 342 days FC Dallas L 6-2 vs. Sporting KC Open Cup

Sporting’s lone blemish of an otherwise perfect afternoon came in the 89th minute when Taider grabbed a consolation goal for the Impact, his third tally of the season. The play denied Sporting its chance to equal the MLS regular season record for largest margin of victory.

With seven goals and three valuable points in the bag, Sporting will now shift their attention to the Concacaf Champions League Semifinals versus Mexican giants CF Monterrey. The first leg of the series is slated for Thursday at world-class Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Guadalupe, Mexico, kicking off at 9 p.m. CT with an English-language live stream on YahooSports.com and a Spanish-language broadcast on Univision Deportes.

Sporting will then host the decisive return leg on Thursday, April 11, at 8 p.m. CT. Tickets for that match remain available at SeatGeek.com

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