Beyond The Box Score presented by Compass Minerals

Beyond the Box Score presented by Compass Minerals: Pulido and Busio torch Dynamo on historic night in Houston

"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.


Making his first start in over a month, Sporting Kansas City striker Alan Pulido delivered a prompt reminder of his unmistakable quality with a scintillating performance in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo.

Pulido had missed most of September through injury but showed no signs of rust at BBVA Stadium, scoring brilliant goals on either side of halftime as Sporting kept hold of third place in the Western Conference. His all-action display proved decisive and drew the praise of Manager Peter Vermes after the match.

“He’s a deadly assassin around the goal,” Vermes said of Pulido. “He’s a special player. Two unbelievable goals – the first one was an individual action, just him carving them up and finishing it off. The second one: so many players hit that ball right at the goalkeeper. For him to just slide the way he did and finish it off the way he did, he’s a world-class player.”

While the goals stand out vividly, a closer look at Pulido’s game log reveals just how influential he was throughout the night. In fact, the 29-year-old Mexican became the first Sporting player during the Opta era to score twice, create two chances, win three fouls and complete 80% of his passes in a regular season match.

Pulido, who will now join the Mexican national team for upcoming matches against the Netherlands and Algeria, is tied with Johnny Russell atop the club scoring chart with six goals in all competitions this year. He also has a team-best four assists, with Sporting Kansas City moving to 6-2-1 when he starts.

Saturday wasn’t all about Pulido, however, as 18-year-old wunderkind Gianluca Busio made history of his own in setting up both goals. With holding midfielder Ilie Sanchez back in the squad, Busio was deployed in a more attacking role and took advantage as Sporting’s chief playmaker against the Dynamo.

After patrolling the center of the pitch as Sporting’s deep-lying No. 6 for more than a month, Busio embraced his opportunity to create goals going forward. At the age of 18 years and 128 days, he became the second-youngest player to notch two primary assists from open play in an MLS regular season match during the Opta era. The youngest to do so? Bayern Munich standout and UEFA Champions League winner Alphonso Davies, who accomplished the feat twice before his 18th birthday.

“When Busio is in that advanced position, he finds really good balls in between the lines but more importantly he knows how to eliminate players and he can give a final pass,” Vermes said after the game. “Busio is very good like that…he did a really good job.”

Added Busio, "I’m more of an attacking player. I like to be attacking. It showed with the two assists. I think that’s the pros of it – I get to go forward more. But there are also things I like playing as the six also. I get to touch the ball more and help in possession. I’ll do whatever the team needs. If they need me to play the six, if they need me to play the ten, I’ll play wherever."

Make no mistake, Pulido and Busio were the stars of the show on Saturday. But the important result also came with a slew of major milestones for three individuals who have established themselves as club legends over the years.

We begin with Vermes, who on Saturday became the fifth head coach in MLS history to log 150 regular season wins. Joining Sigi Schmid, Bruce Arena, Dominic Kinnear and Bob Bradley in the exclusive club, Vermes is the only coach to collect 150 regular season victories with a single club.

COACHES WITH 150+ WINS IN THE MLS REGULAR SEASON

Wins
Coach
Club(s)
240
Sigi Scmid
LA Galaxy (91)
Columbus Crew SC (34)
Seattle Sounders FC (115)
215
Bruce Arena
D.C. United (61)
NY Red Bulls (16)
LA Galaxy (125)
NE Revolution (13)
169
Dominic Kinnear
San Jose Earthquakes (54)
Houston Dynamo (112)
LA Galaxy (3)
166
Bob Bradley
Chicago Fire FC (82)
NY Red Bulls (32)
Chivas USA (10)
LAFC (42)
150
Peter Vermes
Sporting Kansas City (150)

Vermes’ tenure as the Sporting Kansas City manager began in 2009, the same year Graham Zusi joined the club as an MLS SuperDraft selection out of the University of Maryland. The versatile Zusi, who over the last decade has won four major championships at the club and represented the U.S. Men’s National Team 55 times, recorded his 300th start for Sporting on Saturday. He is one of two players to start 300 competitive matches for the club alongside teammate Matt Besler, who was also part of Kansas City’s fabled 2009 draft class.

MOST STARTS IN SPORTING KC HISTORY (ALL COMPETITIONS)

Starts
Player
Seasons
Total Appearances
337
Matt Besler
2009-present
348
300
Graham Zusi
2009-present
344
281
Kerry Zavagnin
2000-2008
291
272
Nick Garcia
2000-2007
273
265
Roger Espinoza
2008-2012; 2015-present
292

The fifth player listed in the chart above added two feathers to his illustrious cap in the defeat of Houston. Roger Espinoza came off the bench in the 61st minute for his first appearance since Aug. 29 and passed current head coach Kerry Zavagnin on the club’s all-time list for games played in all competitions. Espinoza’s 292 competitive appearances rank third behind Besler (348) and Zusi (344).

The Honduran was also credited with a secondary assist on Pulido’s second goal in the 73rd minute. The play gave Espinoza 40 career assists for Sporting in all competitions, making him the sixth player in club history to reach the 40-assist plateau.

MOST ASSISTS IN SPORTING KC HISTORY (ALL COMPETITIONS)

Assists
Player
Seasons
Total Appearances
104
Preki
1996-2000; 2002-2005
238
81
Graham Zusi
2009-present
344
58
Benny Feilhaber
2013-2017; 2019
198
54
Chris Klein
1998-2005
235
40
Davy Arnaud
2002-2011
273
40
Roger Espinoza
2008-2012; 2015-present
292

With Saturday’s momentum-building win in the books, Sporting will now prepare for two home matches against Eastern Conference opponents this week at Children’s Mercy Park. First up is a battle with Chicago Fire FC at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, followed by an inaugural meeting with expansion side Nashville SC at 6:30 p.m. CT on Sunday. Both contests will air live on FOX Sports Kansas City and tickets are available at SeatGeek.com.

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