In a lopsided loss that kept Sporting Kansas City six points shy of playoff positioning, Felipe Gutierrez nevertheless continued his stellar sophomore campaign in MLS.
The Chilean midfielder struck twice in Sporting's 7-2 defeat to the LA Galaxy on Sunday night at Dignity Health Sports Park, taking his team-leading goal total to 12 on the year. In doing so, he moved into a tie among the league's top midfield scoring leaders in 2019. Only Nani of Orlando City SC has as many goals this season as a listed midfielder.
MOST GOALS AMONG MLS MIDFIELDERS IN 2019
|12||Felipe Gutierrez||Sporting Kansas City||28||27|
|12||Nani||Orlando City SC||27||23|
|11||Alejandro Pozuelo||Toronto FC||27||25|
|10||Albert Rusnak||Real Salt Lake||26||25|
|10||Pedro Santos||Columbus Crew SC||30||27|
Perhaps more impressive, however, is the fact that Gutierrez has showcased an undeniable ball-winning ability in the center of the park to compliment his scoring touch. This effective combination has yielded unprecedented numbers in 2019, as Gutierrez is the first player in MLS history during the Opta era (2010-present) to record at least 10 goals and win 50 tackles in a single regular season.
Understandably, Gutierrez was quick to play down his personal accomplishments after the match. Instead, his focus remains squarely on Sporting's final four regular season matches and somehow leapfrogging two teams into the seventh and final playoff spot before Decision Day ends on Oct. 6.
"We have four games and we (still) have an option to go to the playoffs. We are thinking about that," Gutierrez said. "I don't want to think about personal things because it is not important right now."
Whether Sporting are able to fight back into seventh place by season's end remains to be seen, but Gutierrez's plaudits will be well deserved regardless. The Chilean's scintillating brace on Sunday night—he opened the scoring with a clever cut and finish in the first half before unleashing a long-distance banger in the second half—gives him four multi-goal games this season. That's tied for the fourth most in MLS behind heralded attacking trio Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Josef Martinez and Carlos Vela, who happen to occupy the top three spots in the MLS Golden Boot race.
MOST MULTI-GOAL GAMES IN 2019
(MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|8||Zlatan Ibrahimovic||LA Galaxy||25||25|
|6||Josef Martinez||Atlanta United FC||26||26|
|4||Felipe Gutierrez||Sporting Kansas City||28||27|
Gutierrez and Sporting will have no choice but to put Sunday's humbling loss behind them, and quickly. Manager Peter Vermes' men will begin their decisive four-game stretch this Saturday when they return home to face the upstart Colorado Rapids at Children's Mercy Park. Tickets for the match are available at SeatGeek.com with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.