Beyond the Box Score presented by Compass Minerals: Sporting spreads the wealth in scintillating second-half salvo vs. Rapids

"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.


After collecting 10 wins during a 34-game regular season in 2019, Sporting Kansas City has needed just 19 matches to equal that total in 2020.

And after missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 2010, Manager Peter Vermes' men appear to have a real shot at securing their second first-place finish in the Western Conference since 2018.

Sporting vaulted to the summit of the West on Saturday thanks to an emphatic 4-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Children's Mercy Park. After a goalless first 45 minutes amidst chilly playing conditions, Sporting caught fire by sweeping four second-half goals past the hapless Rapids, who were playing their first game in a month after recovering from a COVID-19 outbreak within the team.

Some matches are tailor-made for an in-depth examination on Beyond the Box Score, and Saturday's highlight-reel performance from Sporting certainly fits the bill.

We start with the man who opened the scoring in the 54th minute of action. After missing Sporting's previous four matches for international duty with Mexico, striker Alan Pulido picked up where he left off by sinking the sixth goal of his stellar debut MLS campaign.

It's fair to say that the prolific forward, who joined Sporting on a club-record transfer fee, has lived up to the billing as one of the league's most complete attackers. Among players with 10 or fewer starts this season, Pulido's 10 combined goals (six) and assists (four) are the most in MLS. The Mexican was particularly problematic for Colorado's backline on Saturday, as he tied Kansas City's single-game club record with six shots on target, five of which were saved by busy Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough.

MOST COMBINED GOALS + ASSISTS IN 10 OR FEWER STARTS
(2020 MLS REGULAR SEASON)

Player Club G+A Goals Assists Starts
Alan Pulido Sporting Kansas City 10 6 4 10
Felipe Mora Portland Timbers 9 7 2 10
Lucas Zelarayan Columbus Crew SC 9 5 4 9
Ayo Akinola Toronto FC 8 8 0 9
Cole Bassett Colorado Rapids 8 4 4 8
Fredy Montero Vancouver Whitecaps FC 8 3 5 9

MOST SHOTS ON GOAL IN AN MLS REGULAR SEASON MATCH
(SPORTING KC ALL-TIME)

Player SOG Date Result
Alan Pulido 6 10/24/2020 W 4-0 vs. Colorado Rapids
Eddie Johnson 6 06/02/2007 W 3-2 vs. New York Red Bulls
Preki 6 05/19/1996 L 0-2 at LA Galaxy
Diego Rubio 5 09/3/2017 L 0-1 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Dom Dwyer 5 09/09/2016 T 3-3 vs. Houston Dynamo
Dom Dwyer 5 08/29/2015 L 1-2 at Colorado Rapids
Kei Kamara 5 03/25/2012 W 2-1 vs. FC Dallas
Kei Kamara 5 07/10/2010 L 0-2 vs. Chivas USA
Preki 5 07/06/2002 T 1-1 vs. FC Dallas
Preki 5 09/19/1998 L 0-1 vs. FC Dallas
Preki 5 07/06/1996 W 3-1 vs. LA Galaxy

With six goals in 11 total regular season appearances, Pulido currently checks in at 0.55 goals per match. Among players with at least five goals scored in a single season for Sporting, the only other player in the past 13 years with a higher goals per game rate is Dom Dwyer, who totaled 22 goals across 33 games in 2014.

Pulido certainly isn't the only one who has enjoyed a brilliant first season in Sporting blue. Midfielder Gadi Kinda, who notched Sporting's third goal of the night in the 88th minute, now has six goals on the year—tied with Pulido and Johnny Russell for the team lead.

Looking strictly at first-year players in 2020, Pulido and Kinda both have strong claims for MLS Newcomer of the Year accolades. They are two of only four newcomers to record eight combined goals and primary assists this season, joining Chicago's Robert Beric and Inter Miami's Lewis Morgan.

MOST COMBINED GOALS + PRIMARY ASSISTS AMONG MLS NEWCOMERS
(2020 MLS REGULAR SEASON)

Player Club G+A Goals Assists
Alan Pulido Sporting Kansas City 10 6 4
Robert Beric Chicago Fire FC 10 9 1
Lewis Morgan Inter Miami CF 9 5 4
Gadi Kinda Sporting Kansas City 8 6 2
Lucas Zelarayan Columbus Crew SC 7 5 2
Rodolfo Pizarro Inter Miami CF 7 3 4

Twenty minutes before Kinda found the back of the net, center back Andreu Fontas recorded his first MLS goal and the first professional goal of his career since scoring for Spanish side Celta Vigo in January 2017. Fontas was a late addition to Sporting's lineup on Saturday after Winston Reid was a late scratch due to hamstring tightness.

Fontas made the most of his last-minute opportunity against the Rapids, piecing together a wonderfully balanced display as illustrated below. On Saturday, the 30-year-old Barcelona academy product became the first MLS player since the dawn of the Opta era in 2010 to record a goal, two clearances, two interceptions, two tackles, 10 recoveries and 65 successful passes in a shutout victory.

ANDREU FONTAS ON SATURDAY VS. COLORADO RAPIDS
(FIRST MLS PLAYER SINCE DAWN OF OPTA ERA IN 2010)

  • One goal
  • Two clearances, two interceptions and two tackles
  • 10 recoveries and 65 successful passes
  • One shutout victory

We would be remiss not to mention the fact that Fontas was making his first appearance at Children's Mercy Park since August 2019 after missing several months with an Achilles injury.

Another defender who mashed up an unprecedented stat line last night was 20-year-old Sporting KC Academy product Jaylin Lindsey. The right back treated fans to arguably the best performance of his young career, becoming the first MLS player during the Opta era to amass 30 successful passes, 10 duels won, four tackles won, three chances created, two clearances and two interceptions in a shutout victory.

JAYLIN LINDSEY ON SATURDAY VS. COLORADO RAPIDS
(FIRST MLS PLAYER SINCE DAWN OF OPTA ERA IN 2010)

  • 30 successful passes
  • 10 duels won
  • Four tackles won
  • Three chances created
  • Two clearances and two interceptions
  • One shutout victory

Fontas and Lindsey were part of a stout defensive effort that afforded the Rapids zero clean scoring chances on the night. Colorado was especially toothless in the first half, becoming the sixth Sporting opponent in the last nine seasons to finish with zero shots and zero corners in the opening 45 minutes of a regular season match.

ZERO SHOTS + ZERO CORNERS IN FIRST HALF
(SPORTING KC REGULAR SEASON OPPONENTS SINCE 2010)

Date Opponent Result
10/24/2020 vs. Colorado Rapids W 4-0
06/17/2017 at San Jose Earthquakes T 0-0
07/24/2016 vs. Seattle Sounders FC W 3-0
06/02/2016 at LA Galaxy T 0-0
08/26/2012 vs. New York Red Bulls T 1-1
04/01/2012 at Chivas USA W 1-0

Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia wasn't asked to do too much on Saturday, but he nevertheless came away with two major feathers added to his already impressive cap. By making two routine saves, he tied Tony Meola for first place on Kansas City's all-time saves chart in the regular season at 507. He also became the eighth keeper in MLS history to post 50 regular season shutouts with one club.

MLS GOALKEEPERS TO LOG 50 REGULAR SEASON SHUTOUTS WITH ONE CLUB

Player Shutouts Club Seasons
Nick Rimando 118 Real Salt Lake 2007-2019
Luis Robles 72 New York Red Bulls 2012-2019
Bill Hamid 69 D.C. United 2010-2020
Matt Reis 66 New England Revolution 2003-2013
Kevin Hartman 62 LA Galaxy 1997-2006
Stefan Frei 62 Seattle Sounders FC 2014-2020
Zach Thornton 57 Chicago Fire FC 1998-2006
Tim Melia 50 Sporting Kansas City 2015-2020

Last but not least, we revisit the sublime Gerso Fernandes goal in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. The winger's lung-busting solo run and dink over Yarbrough gave Sporting four scores on the night and marked just the third time ever that Sporting notched four or more goals in a game, all in one half.

FOUR OR MORE GOALS IN A MATCH, ALL IN ONE HALF
(SPORTING KC ALL-TIME, MLS REGULAR SEASON)

Date Opponent Result Halftime
10/24/2020 vs. Colorado Rapids W 4-0 Tied 0-0
10/17/2018 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC W 4-1 Trailing 1-0
08/15/2015 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC W 4-3 Trailing 2-0

Perhaps most importantly, Saturday’s result vaults Sporting a point ahead of Seattle Sounders FC and the Portland Timbers at the top of the West with three regular season matches remaining. Vermes’ men will look to continue their winning ways on Wednesday with a visit to Eastern Conference bottom-dwellers FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports GO.

Series: 
Topics: