Beyond The Box Score presented by Compass Minerals

Beyond the Box Score presented by Compass Minerals: Sporting sinks Rapids after second half for the ages

Beyond The Box Score" is a weekly series presented by Compass Minerals that takes a statistical dive into every Sporting match, bringing to light the intriguing numbers and factoids that don't appear in the typical box score. To visit the series archive, click here.


A pedestrian first half gave way to a jaw-dropping and historic second half on Friday night as Sporting Kansas City clawed back to secure an invaluable 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids in the MLS is Back Tournament.

The final 45 minutes plus stoppage time made for an instant classic that Sporting fans won't soon forget, with goals from red-hot forwards Khiry Shelton and Alan Pulido, a dramatic game-winner from longtime veteran Graham Zusi, and two straight red cards for a Colorado side that very nearly nicked an unlikely point.

In the newest edition of Beyond the Box Score, presented by Compass Minerals, we begin at the end. With 91 minutes on the clock and the game tied 2-2, Graham Zusi unfurled a speculative effort from the edge of the box that took a wicked deflection, looped over Colorado goalkeeper William Yarbrough and nestled into the back of the net.

Zusi's goal was the 29th of his MLS career, and coupled with his 71 assists, the 33-year-old has become just the second player in club history to register 100 combined goals and assists in MLS play (including playoffs). The first player to do so, of course, was the legendary Preki, whose 181 combined MLS goals and assists for the club won't be surpassed any time soon.

SPORTING KC: MOST COMBINED GOALS AND ASSISTS IN MLS
(ALL-TIME, INCLUDING PLAYOFFS)

# Player Total Goals Assists Games Seasons
1 Preki 181 79 102 238 1996-2000; 2002-2005
2 Graham Zusi 100 29 71 301 2009-present
3 Chris Klein 91 42 49 216 1998-2005
4 Davy Arnaud 83 47 36 255 2002-2011
5 Benny Feilhaber 77 31 46 175 2013-2017; 2019

Some 20 minutes before Zusi decided the contest, Mexican striker Alan Pulido made history of his own. His successful penalty kick gave Sporting a 2-1 advantage and continued his scintillating start to life in MLS. Consider this: before 2020, no Kansas City player had ever scored or assisted in his first three league appearances for the club. Pulido has done so in his first four, amassing three goals and two assists in 352 minutes of action. He has scored in three of his first four games and assisted Sporting's lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota United FC last Sunday.

Khiry Shelton, Pulido's attacking teammate, has been just as impressive to start the 2020 campaign. The versatile forward hammered home a sweet volley to level the score at 1-1 in the 65th minute on Friday, marking his third straight game with a goal dating back to Sporting's home opener on March 7. Shelton has three goals in four appearances this year after netting twice in 20 games for the club in 2018.

If Shelton finds the net in Wednesday's group stage finale against Real Salt Lake, he will join Preki, Dom Dwyer, Eddie Johnson and Felipe Gutierrez as the only Sporting players to score in four straight regular season appearances.

SPORTING KC: LONGEST GOAL SCORING STREAKS
(MLS REGULAR SEASON)

Player
Matches
Season
Preki

 

5
3 (two times)
3
3
1996
1996
1997
2003
Dom Dwyer 4 (two times)
4
2014
2016
Eddie Johnson
4
3
2007
2007
Felipe Gutierrez 4 2018
Mark Chung
3
1996
Miklos Molnar
3 (two times)
2000
Josh Wolff
3
3
2004
2009
Chris Klein
3
2005
Scott Sealy
3
2006
Davy Arnaud
3
3 (across 2 seasons)
2008
2008-2009
Kei Kamara
3 (across 2 seasons)
2009-2010
Benny Feilhaber 3 2017
Diego Rubio 3 2018
Daniel Salloi 3 2018
Gianluca Busio 3 2019
Khiry Shelton 3 2020

Shelton's equalizer was set up by Gadi Kinda, who did well to settle Luis Martins' looping cross and clip the ball back across the face of goal. With the assist under his belt, Kinda joins fellow Kansas City newcomer Pulido and Columbus Crew SC playmaker Lucas Zelarayan as the only MLS players with multiple goals and assists this season.

MLS PLAYERS WITH MULTIPLE GOALS AND ASSISTS IN 2020
(MATCHES THROUGH JULY 17)

Player Club Goals Assists Minutes
Lucas Zelarayan Columbus Crew SC 3 2 295
Alan Pulido Sporting Kansas City 3 2 352
Gadi Kinda Sporting Kansas City 2 2 322

Friday's result vaulted Sporting back into firm contention for a top-two finish in Group D of the MLS is Back Tournament. Indeed, a win over RSL on Wednesday would assure Manager Peter Vermes' men a spot in the knockout rounds, while a draw would almost certainly be enough for Sporting to advance as one of the four best third-place finishers. For the full rundown of Sporting's knockout stage qualification scenarios in Group D, click here.

As for the Rapids, they sit squarely behind the eight-ball in Group D after dropping their first two games in the competition. The task was made all the more difficult for them when defender Danny Wilson and captain Jack Price received straight red cards from referee Dave Gantar during the second half of Friday's rollercoaster battle. This marked the ninth time since the dawn of the Opta era in 2010 that Sporting Kansas City was involved in a match that saw a single team get two or more red cards.

SPORTING KC: MULTIPLE RED CARDS BY ONE TEAM IN A SINGLE MATCH
(MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2010)

Date Opponent Multiple Reds Result
07/16/2011 at Houston Dynamo Houston (2) T 1-1
08/10/2013 vs. New England Revolution New England (2) W 3-0
08/27/2016 at Philadelphia Union SKC (2) L 0-2
04/20/2018 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC Vancouver (2) W 6-0
07/04/2018 at Real Salt Lake SKC (2) L 2-4
08/04/2018 at Houston Dynamo Houston (3) W 1-0
04/27/2019 vs. New England Revolution New England (2) T 4-4
09/29/2019 vs. Portland Timbers SKC (2) T 2-2
07/17/2020 vs. Colorado Rapids Colorado (2) W 3-2

Last but certainly not least, we visit a pair of longevity-related milestones for two of Sporting's stalwarts. Captain Matt Besler, who celebrated the win with a signature beer chug after the full-time whistle, became the first player ever to log 25,000 regular season minutes for the club. Midfielder Roger Espinoza, meanwhile, leapfrogged Davy Arnaud into the top five on Sporting's all-time regular season minutes chart.

SPORTING KC LEADERS IN MINUTES PLAYED
(ALL-TIME, MLS REGULAR SEASON)

# Player Minutes Games Seasons
1 Matt Besler 25,051 288 2009-present
2 Graham Zusi 22,211 283 2009-present
3 Kerry Zavagnin 20,515 237 2000-2008
4 Nick Garcia 20,157 224 2000-2007
5 Roger Espinoza 19,424 242 2008-2012; 2015-present

With three precious points in the bag, Sporting will conclude their group stage campaign Wednesday versus RSL in an 8 a.m. CT kickoff—the earliest start to a competitive match in club history. The game will be shown live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the ESPN app.

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