Beyond the Box Score presented by Compass Minerals: Erik Hurtado extends team scoring streak in first road loss of 2020

"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.

One day shy of 11 months. A total of 335 days.

That’s how long Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (5-3-2, 17 points) went between road losses in the MLS regular season before falling 2-1 to the Houston Dynamo (3-2-4, 13 points) on Saturday night at BBVA Stadium.

Unsurprisingly, this stands as the longest period without an MLS away defeat in the club’s 25-year history—albeit with a full offseason and a pandemic-induced hiatus built in.

The streak looked destined to continue in the early stages of Saturday’s contest, as Erik Hurtado’s 30th-minute goal gave Manager Peter Vermes’ side a 1-0 advantage going into the break. However, Houston responded with a pair of goal through substitutes Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas to emerge victorious and snap Sporting’s four-game road unbeaten run in 2020.

Despite Saturday’s loss, Sporting won’t be discouraged by the early returns on their travels this season. The club’s 3-1-1 road record in 2020—which, by the MLS record books, includes an MLS is Back Tournament game against Real Salt Lake on July 22—is tied for the second-best through five away fixtures in Sporting history. The 2000 MLS Cup champions began 3-0-2 away from home, while the 2007 and 2018 Kansas City outfits started 3-1-1.

Sporting KC: Best regular season road starts through five matches

Season Points Record
2000 11 3-0-2
2020 10 3-1-1
2018 10 3-1-1
2007 10 3-1-1
2012 9 3-2-0

As for Hurtado’s strike on the half-hour mark—the culmination of a beautiful buildup in which every Sporting player except Graham Zusi touched the ball—the striker vaulted into pole position for one notable statistic. Among players with at least two goals scored and 90 minutes played this season, Hurtado ranks first in goals per 90 minutes. After being limited to substitute cameos in his first five appearances, the forward made the most of his first start on Saturday.

Goals per 90 minutes in 2020 MLS regular season
(minimum two goals and 90 minutes played)

Goals per 90 Player Club Goals Minutes
1.86 Erik Hurtado Sporting Kansas City 2 97
1.35 Chris Wondolowski San Jose Earthquakes 3 200
1.23 Ayo Akinola Toronto FC 5 365
1.22 Jonathan Lewis Colorado Rapids 3 221
1.14 Diego Rossi LAFC 9 711

The well-worked goal means Sporting have now scored in their first 10 matches of a regular season for the first time since 2007. They are the only MLS team yet to be shut out in 2020 and have moved within two games of equaling the club record for consecutive matches with a goal to start a campaign. Sporting struck in each of the first dozen matches to open 2003 and 2008.

Sporting KC: Longest scoring streaks to start a regular season

Season Matches
11 2007
10 2020
8 2019

With five lineup changes from Wednesday’s 1-1 home draw against FC Dallas, Vermes continued his squad rotation on Saturday as Sporting took the field for the fifth time in 16 days. Incredibly enough, this marked the club’s busiest five-game stretch in the regular season since 2007, and just the 11th time in which Sporting played five regular season matches in 16 days or less.

Sporting KC: Busiest five-game stretches in the MLS regular season

Days 1st Match 5th Match
14 08/23/98 09/05/98
14 05/30/04 06/12/04
14 08/19/07 09/01/07
15 05/13/98 05/27/98
15 08/12/00 08/26/00
15 05/21/05 06/04/05
15 06/24/06 07/08/06
16 07/27/96 08/11/96
16 07/31/96 08/15/96
16 05/16/98 05/31/98
16 08/21/20 09/05/20

Having navigated a grueling patch of the condensed MLS schedule, Vermes’ men will have a full week of recuperation and preparation prior to hosting regional rivals Minnesota United FC next Sunday, Sept. 13, at Children’s Mercy Park in a game that will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT and air on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus.