Beyond The Box Score: Goals fly in dramatic draw between Sporting and New England

The ninth 4-4 draw in Major League Soccer history had just about everything.

And we aren't using that term lightly.

Tons of goals. Multiple penalty kicks. Multiple red cards. And a dramatic comeback to punctuate one of the wildest shootouts Children's Mercy Park has ever hosted.

Sporting Kansas City overcame deficits of 3-1 and 4-2 on Saturday night, using braces from Krisztian Nemeth and Felipe Gutierrez, to earn a 4-4 draw against the New England Revolution in what became an early candidate for best game of the 2019 MLS season.

While the hosts were bolstered by Nemeth and Gutierrez, the Revs received a Juan Fernando Caicedo brace and additional strikes from Juan Agudelo and DeJuan Jones. Head coach Brad Friedel's men looked as if they might emerge with an unlikely road win, but the visitors were reduced to nine men in the dying embers and ultimately succumbed to a ceaseless wave of Sporting pressure.

That brings us around to what made Saturday absolute bonkers: it was the first competitive game in Sporting's 24-year history that featured a combined seven goals, two red cards and two penalties. Indeed, it had just about everything.

Not too surprisingly, the eight-goal barnburner was Sporting's second-highest scoring game all-time, equaling the lofty total reached on four previous occasions but falling short of the famous 10-goal explosion between Kansas City and Columbus in 1996 at Arrowhead Stadium.

HIGHEST SCORING MATCHES IN SPORTING KC HISTORY
(ALL COMPETITIONS)

Goals Date Result Competition
10 05/02/1996 W 6-4 vs. Columbus Crew SC MLS
8 08/16/1998 L 3-5 at Columbus Crew SC MLS
8 04/25/2015 T 4-4 at Houston Dynamo MLS
8 07/01/2015 W 6-2 vs. FC Dallas Open Cup
8 03/30/2019 W 7-1 vs. Montreal Impact MLS
8 04/27/2019 T 4-4 vs. New England Revolution MLS

As the tables immediately above and below illustrate, a remarkably rare instance has occurred twice in the space of a month at Children's Mercy Park.

First, the stadium has already witnessed a pair of eight-goal salvos this season, with Saturday's 4-4 tie coming after a 7-1 demolition of Montreal on March 30. Second, two Sporting players have bagged a brace in the same MLS match. Nemeth and Gutierrez recorded doubles on Saturday against New England, four weeks after Nemeth and Johnny Russell did the deed versus Montreal.

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

Date Players Result
05/02/1996 Preki and Mo Johnston W 6-4 vs. Columbus Crew SC
08/04/1996 Mark Chung and Vitalis Takawira W 4-2 at D.C. United
07/23/2011 Omar Bravo and Kei Kamara W 4-2 vs. Toronto FC
03/30/2019 Krisztian Nemeth (3) and Johnny Russell W 7-1 vs. Montreal Impact
04/27/2019 Krisztian Nemeth and Felipe Gutierrez T 4-4 vs. New England Revolution

As anyone who has attended a match at Children's Mercy Park this season can attest, the hosts have provided no shortage of high-octane offense.

In seven competitive home games this season, including three in the Concacaf Champions League, Sporting has scored at least twice each game and totaled 23 overall. That's more than three goals per contest. Fifteen of those 23 have come in regular season play, good for the most through four home matches in club history.

SPORTING KC: MOST GOALS THROUGH FOUR HOME MATCHES
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)

Goals Season(s)
15 2019
13 1996
10 2000
9 1997
8 2003, 2007, 2017

Taking away games into account, Sporting's 19 goals are the second-most in MLS this season and the club's second-most through eight MLS matches all-time. Manager Peter Vermes' men bagged 20 through their first eight fixtures of 2018, eventually setting a single-season record with 65 goals last year.

SPORTING KC: MOST GOALS THROUGH EIGHT MATCHES
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)

Goals Season(s)
20 2018
19 2019
17 2000, 2005
16 2007
15 2003

Few would argue that Sporting's worries at the moment revolve around goal scoring. On the contrary, they revolve around preventing them.

While Vermes' side has scored freely throughout the first two months of the 2019 campaign, they've also conceded at a higher rate. Saturday marked just the fourth time (and the first since 2002) that Sporting has conceded four or more goals in consecutive regular season matches. Challenged by a slew injuries and fixture congestion brought on by the Champions League, Sporting has allowed 21 goals in six competitive matches since April 4.

SPORTING KC: FOUR GOALS ALLOWED IN TWO STRAIGHT GAMES

Dates Results
05/02/1996
05/05/1996
W 6-4 vs. Columbus Crew SC
L 0-4 at Colorado Rapids
06/09/2001
06/13/2001
L 1-5 at Miami Fusion
L 0-4 at LA Galaxy
08/14/2002
08/18/2002
L 1-5 at Chicago Fire
L 0-4 at Columbus Crew SC
04/20/2019
04/27/2019
L 1-4 at San Jose Earthquakes
T 4-4 vs. New England Revolution

"It was an entertaining game for people who were watching it and in the stadium," Vermes said postgame. "Giving up that many goals was not a good thing for us. I’m proud of the fact that we found a way to get back into it. We were close there at the end (and) we almost stole it. It was a crazy game.

"I give the guys a lot of credit for (coming back), and that part is good," he continued. "I don’t like the fact that we gave up the goals and that part has got to stop. We found a way to fight back and I do think the guys left their hearts on the field. If there’s one thing the fans can appreciate, it’s that."

Sporting will aim to tighten things up next Sunday, May 5, when they host reigning MLS champion Atlanta United FC on Retro Night. Tickets for the highly anticipated matchup, slated for 8 p.m. CT, are available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting turns back the clocks with a comprehensive throwback experience for fans in attendance.

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