Gadi Kinda and Daniel Salloi scored in back-to-back minutes near the hour mark as Sporting Kansas City (1-0-0, 3 points) secured a 2-1 comeback victory over the New York Red Bulls (0-1-0, 0 points) in an exciting Week 1 battle on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
After New York took a 1-0 lead three minutes into the second half through 17-year-old Caden Clark, Kinda converted a 59th-minute penalty kick and Salloi slotted home in the 60th minute to give Sporting their MLS-record 15th season-opening win and kick off the 2021 campaign on a high note.
With a momentous triumph under their belts, Sporting will now return to Children’s Mercy Park for the club’s highly anticipated home opener on Friday against Orlando City SC at 6:30 p.m. CT. The sold-out encounter will be shown nationally on FS1, FOX Deportes and the FOX Sports app.
Entering his 13th season at the helm, Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes assembled a matchday squad that featured nine Homegrown Players, an all-time record for the club. With Tim Melia out injured, 19-year-old John Pulskamp became the youngest Sporting goalkeeper to play in an MLS match and the youngest MLS goalkeeper to win a game since 2010. Pulskamp was one of three Sporting debutants in the starting lineup, joining a pair of Frenchmen in center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and holding midfielder Remi Walter.
Both sides were kept at bay in a cagey first 45 minutes that produced zero combined shots on goal—the eighth such occurrence in Sporting history. Kinda and 18-year-old Gianluca Busio—who was deployed as a center forward on Saturday—combined neatly on the edge of the box in the 12th minute only to see Red Bulls defender Andrew Gutman scramble clear. Over 20 minutes later, New York’s Cristian Casseres Jr. galloped into the attacking third and unleashed a long-range effort that deflected marginally wide of Pulskamp’s right-hand post.
The inter-conference clash sprang to life after intermission, with the Red Bulls wasting little time landing the first punch. Kyle Duncan found a pocket of space to cross near the right corner flag, and although Isimat-Mirin won his defensive header at the far post, Clark was stationed near the penalty spot to smash an impressive volley past Pulskamp and into the top right corner to give New York a 1-0 advantage.
Sporting responded admirably to the setback as Walter did well to open himself up for a 20-yard shot that fizzed high and wide before Busio settled Kinda’s impudent pass into the box and forced Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Coronel into his lone save of the evening.
The visitors restored parity shortly thereafter when Jaylin Lindsey’s attempted cross was blocked by Gutman’s outstretched arm inside the penalty area. Referee Robert Sibiga did not hesitate in pointing to the spot, and Kinda made no mistake by burying his spot kick straight down the middle for Sporting’s first goal of the 2021 campaign.
With momentum on their side, Sporting grabbed a match-winner just 62 seconds later on a breathtaking attack down the right flank. Lindsey surged into the attacking half and spread the ball wide to Khiry Shelton, who whipped an inch-perfect cross past two New York defenders to Salloi, who was rewarded for his far-post run with a calm finish into the gaping net. The 24-year-old Salloi bagged his first goal since September 2019 on the play as Sporting scored in back-to-back minutes of a regular season fixture for only the sixth time ever and the first since 2007.
Having turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal cushion, Sporting clamped down on the Red Bulls for the remainder of the match as the 2-1 scoreline was preserved until Sibiga’s full-time whistle. Captain Johnny Russell and striker Alan Pulido, two of the club’s leading scorers from last season, notably came off the bench in the 77th minute to help Vermes’ side close out a hard-earned three points in the team’s first regular season game in over five months.
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 1
Red Bull Arena | Harrison, New Jersey
Weather: 53 degrees and cloudy
|Sporting Kansas City (1-0-0, 3 points)||0||2||2|
|New York Red Bulls (0-1-0, 0 points)||0||1||1|
Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Jaylin Lindsey, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins; Remi Walter, Gadi Kinda (Alan Pulido 77'), Roger Espinoza (C) (Felipe Hernandez 90'); Khiry Shelton, Gianluca Busio, Daniel Salloi (Johnny Russell 77')
Subs Not Used: Parker Siegfried, Roberto Puncec, Kaveh Rad, Cam Duke, Grayson Barber, Wilson Harris
New York Red Bulls: Carlos Coronel; Kyle Duncan, Sean Nealis, Aaron Long, Andrew Gutman; Youba Diarra (Florian Valot 54'), Sean Davis (C); Cristian Casseres Jr. (Wikelman Carmona 72'), Caden Clark, Brian White (Tom Barlow 61'); Fabio (Daniel Royer 72')
Subs Not Used: Ryan Meara, Andres Reyes, Amro Tarek, John Tolkin, Cameron Harper
RBNY -- Caden Clark 1 (unassisted) 48'
SKC -- Gadi Kinda 1 (penalty kick) 59'
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 1 (unassisted) 60'
SKC -- Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 9'
RBNY -- Youba Diarra (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 41'
|Shots on Goal||3||3|
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referee: Gjovalin Bori
Assistant Referee: Jeremy Kieso
Fourth Official: Guido Gonzales Jr.
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez
AVAR: Tom Supple