The season was only two weeks young, but Sporting Kansas City had already delivered an emphatic statement to the rest of Major League Soccer. Manager Peter Vermes’ men were back with a vengeance, and momentum was very much on their side.
MLS action is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with MLS and Sporting both prioritizing the health and safety of players, coaches and fans during this adverse time.
With MLS targeting a return date of May 10, there’s plenty of time for us to reflect on Sporting’s first two games of the 2020 campaign—an impressive 3-1 road win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Feb. 29 and a 4-0 dismantling of the Houston Dynamo in a dream home opener at Children’s Mercy Park on March 7.
Below are some of the biggest facts and statistics to emerge after Week 2, thanks in part to the intel provided by Opta.
- Sporting has begun an MLS season with consecutive wins by multiple goals for the first time ever.
- Sporting has scored three or more goals in each of their first two MLS matches for the second time ever (2000).
- Sporting has scored seven total goals through their first two MLS matches for the second time ever (2000).
- Sporting’s plus-six goal difference is their all-time best through two matches of an MLS season.
- Sporting’s 4-0 win over Houston equaled the largest-ever margin of victory in a home opener.
- Sporting ranks second in MLS with seven goals scored, all of which have come from inside the box.
- Sporting’s one goal conceded is tied with Columbus and Real Salt Lake for the fewest in MLS.
- Sporting ranks third in MLS with a shot conversion rate of 25%. A quarter of Sporting’s shot attempts have resulted in goals.
- Sporting leads MLS with 373 passes in the attacking third.
- Sporting ranks second in MLS with an 80.6% passing accuracy in the attacking half.
- Midfielder Gadi Kinda and forward Alan Pulido are the third and fourth newcomers all-time to score in each of Sporting’s first two matches of a regular season (Miklos Molnar in 2000, Claudio Bieler in 2013).
- Pulido and Kinda are two of 12 MLS players with at least two goals through Week 2. Both of Pulido’s shots on target have resulted in goals.
- Pulido leads MLS forwards with a passing accuracy of 89.4% in the attacking half.
- In the 4-0 win over Houston, forward Khiry Shelton became the eighth player in Sporting history to score a goal in two separate stints with the club.
- Shelton is tied for the MLS lead with seven chances created from open play.
- Shelton ranks second in MLS with 25 German duels won. A German duel is a 50-50 contest between teams that results from flick-ons, knockdowns, crosses or long balls when the ball is not cleanly possessed by either side.
- Shelton ranks seventh in MLS with 20 duels won, placing first among forwards in the category.
- In the 4-0 win over Houston, midfielder Roger Espinoza became the first Sporting player in the Opta era (since 2010) to score a goal, win five tackles and complete more than 40 passes in an MLS match.
- In the 4-0 win over Houston, goalkeeper Tim Melia collected his 46th career shutout in the MLS regular season, vaulting him into sole possession of first place on Sporting’s all-time charts.
- Melia is tied for second in MLS with a save percentage of 83.3%
- Midfielder Ilie Sanchez ranks fifth in MLS with 72 successful passes in the attacking half.
- Defender Luis Martins leads MLS defenders with 45 passes in the attacking third.
- Martins ranks fourth among MLS defenders with 20 possessions won.
- Defender Matt Besler leads MLS with a duel success of 84.2% (minimum five duels won).