"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.
On the heels of a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to the Philadelphia Union on Thursday night, Sporting Kansas City has officially ended its monthlong stay in Walt Disney World.
After playing five matches in the historic and unprecedented MLS is Back Tournament, Sporting returned to Kansas City on Friday with a keen eye cast on the resumption of the 2020 regular season later this summer. MLS plans to continue the regular season campaign with a revised league schedule, followed by the 25th edition of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.
Rest and recovery will be the name of the game over the next few days, and although Sporting would have liked to extend its stay in Florida through the tournament final on Aug. 11, Manager Peter Vermes' men won't complain about their current position in the Western Conference table. Sporting occupies top spot in the West with 12 points and a 4-1-0 record, not to mention a league-best plus-eight goal differential.
This strong start sets the team up nicely for a potential return to the playoffs after missing out last year for the first time since 2010. It also puts Sporting in the thick of the early Supporters' Shield race, just a point behind leaders Columbus Crew SC.
As for what transpired Thursday night in a 3-1 setback to Philadelphia, Vermes was the first to admit after the match that his team " fell very, very short of our quality." Even in the face of a disappointing result, however, Sporting's lone goal of the night marked the continuation of a certain newcomer's brilliant beginning to life in MLS.
Making his seventh MLS appearance of the year, Mexican striker Alan Pulido headed home a Johnny Russell cross on the stroke of intermission to give Sporting a lifeline heading into the second half. In doing so he became the second-fastest Kansas City player to record four goal and four assists in a single MLS season.
It should be noted that the list below takes into consideration all MLS competitions, including the regular season, playoffs and MLS is Back Tournament. Group stage games in the MLS is Back Tournament go into the record books as regular season fixtures, while knockout round matches do not.
The only Kansas City players to hit four goals and four assists faster in a single MLS campaign are Sporting Legends Preki and Josh Wolff, who took six MLS appearances to reach those totals in 1997 and 2005, respectively.
FASTEST SPORTING PLAYERS TO 4 GOALS + 4 ASSISTS IN AN MLS SEASON
With players and coaches back in Kansas City, Sporting will begin an eager wait for regular season action to kick back off in the near term. Until then, fans can hope this is only the start of a thrilling Supporters' Shield chase leading up to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
|Supporters' Shield Table||Points||Overall|
|1||Columbus Crew SC||13||2.6||5||4||0||1||9||1||8|
|2||Sporting Kansas City||12||2.4||5||4||1||0||13||5||8|
|3||Minnesota United FC||11||2.2||5||3||0||2||12||6||6|
|5||Los Angeles Football Club||9||1.8||5||2||0||3||15||10||5|
|7||Seattle Sounders FC||8||1.6||5||2||1||2||7||4||3|
|8||Orlando City SC||8||1.6||5||2||1||2||7||5||2|
|9||San Jose Earthquakes||8||1.6||5||2||1||2||10||10||0|
|13||New York Red Bulls||7||1.4||5||2||2||1||5||7||-2|
|14||Atlanta United FC||6||1.2||5||2||3||0||4||5||-1|
|15||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||6||1.2||5||2||3||0||7||10||-3|
|17||New England Revolution||6||1.2||5||1||1||3||4||4||0|
|18||Real Salt Lake||6||1.2||5||1||1||3||3||3||0|
|21||Chicago Fire FC||4||0.8||5||1||3||1||4||8||-4|
|22||New York City FC||3||0.6||5||1||4||0||2||6||-4|
|26||Inter Miami CF||0||0||5||0||5||0||3||8||-5|