Defender Jaylin Lindsey scored his first professional goal and forwards Alan Pulido and Daniel Salloi struck for the second straight game as Sporting Kansas City (4-2-1, 13 points) battled from behind to secure an excellent 3-1 road win over the San Jose Earthquakes (3-4-0, 9 points) on Saturday night at PayPal Park.
After Eduardo Lopez lifted San Jose into an early lead, Lindsey provided a first-half equalizer and Pulido fired Sporting ahead with a stunning effort in the 60th minute. Salloi sealed the triumph on a sublime finish with 15 minutes to play as Sporting collected their second consecutive victory and vaulted to second place in the Western Conference.
Saturday’s enthralling matchup saw Sporting improve to 7-1-3 in their last 11 competitive meetings against San Jose and claim their league-leading third win from a losing position this season.
Injuries along the Sporting Kansas City backline prompted Manager Peter Vermes to make two changes to the starting XI from last weekend’s 3-0 home win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Lindsey stepped in for right back Graham Zusi, who was sidelined with a quad ailment, while center back Andreu Fontas missed out with an adductor strain and was replaced by 19-year-old Kaveh Rad.
San Jose drew first blood inside four minutes on a brilliant strike from Lopez. The 26-year-old Mexican settled Cristian Espinoza’s corner kick at the top of the box and curled a 20-yard effort into the top left corner for his second tally of the season and the earliest goal Sporting has conceded in 2021.
An unlikely goal scorer pulled Sporting level in the 15th minute. Pulido drew a pair of San Jose defenders and flicked a delectable diagonal ball to the onrunning Lindsey, who took a touch on the right side of the box and slotted low across Earthquakes goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski and into the far corner to open his MLS scoring account. Pulido notched his sixth career MLS assist on the play and continues to lead the league with 0.99 goals and primary assists per 90 minutes since the start of 2020 (regular season and playoffs, minimum 750 minutes).
The remainder of the half unfolded in breathless fashion as both sides exchanged attacking punches. In the 23rd minute, 18-year-old Gianluca Busio embarked on a galloping foray into the final third before spreading it right to Pulido, who lashed his shot wide of the near post. Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia produced an impressive save less than a minute later, diving left to cast aside 17-year-old Cade Cowell’s bending attempt.
Shortly thereafter, an intricate passing combination from Sporting culminated with Pulido cutting the ball to an unmarked Gadi Kinda, who forced Marcinkowski into a save of his own. Melia remained busy at the opposite end, sprawling to thwart Lopez in the 31st minute, before Marcinkowski denied Pulido from close range in the 39th minute after Salloi won possession off a San Jose giveaway.
The second stanza belonged to Sporting, although the Earthquakes threatened twice within 15 minutes of the restart. Espinoza’s long-range turf trimmer was palmed away by Melia and although Cowell was well positioned for the rebound, his shot was blocked by the sliding Lindsey in the 52nd minute. A few moments later, Andy Rios fluffed an open header after running onto a pass lobbed across the face of goal from San Jose captain Jackson Yueill.
Pulido struck in emphatic fashion on the hour mark, breaking the tie with a goal that ultimately stood as the match winner. The 30-year-old Mexican international received a diagonal pass from Salloi and uncorked a sledgehammer that took a slight deflection and caromed into the net off the underside of the crossbar. Pulido has three goals in his last two games and his four strikes on the season are tied for third most in MLS.
The in-form striker thought he had bagged his second goal of the night in the 63rd minute, but Pulido’s blast into the roof of the net from a tight angle was nullified for Kinda’s offside infraction in the buildup. Kinda had a chance himself in the 71st minute, and although he was unable to make clean contact on the breakaway, Sporting retained possession and Luis Martins’ cross was headed marginally wide by Salloi.
In the 75th minute, Salloi made no mistake by curling a jaw-dropping shot inside the far post from the edge of the penalty area. The 24-year-old Sporting KC Academy product has three goals and two assists this year after recording one goal and one assist in the previous two seasons combined.
The game was stretched in the dying embers, with Yueill seeing his shot smothered by Melia at close range and Marcinkowski tipping Kinda’s audacious 35-yard belter over the crossbar. Sporting would preserve their 3-1 advantage until the full-time whistle, handing San Jose their third consecutive home loss at PayPal Park.
With momentum firmly on their side, Sporting will return home next Saturday to host rivals Houston Dynamo FC (3-2-2, 11 points) in the first full-capacity match at Children’s Mercy Park since March 7, 2020. Tickets for the highly anticipated showdown are available now at SeatGeek.com.
2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 7
PayPal Park | San Jose, California
Weather: 66 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City (4-2-1, 13 points)||1||2||3|
|San Jose Earthquakes (3-4-0, 9 points)||1||0||1|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jaylin Lindsey, Ilie Sanchez, Kaveh Rad, Luis Martins; Gianluca Busio, Roger Espinoza (C) (Remi Walter 63'), Gadi Kinda; Khiry Shelton, Alan Pulido (Johnny Russell 90+2'), Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Amadou Dia, Roberto Puncec, Graham Smith, Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Wilson Harris
San Jose Earthquakes: J.T. Marcinkowski; Florian Jungwirth, Tommy Thompson (Shea Salinas 66'), Oswaldo Alanis, Paul Marie (Luciano Abecasis 74'); Jackson Yueill (C), Eric Remedi; Cristian Espinoza, Eduardo Lopez (Carlos Fierro 65'), Cade Cowell (Benjamin Kikanovic 82'); Andy Rios (Chris Wondolowski 65')
Subs Not Used: Daniel Vega, Tanner Beason, Judson, Jack Skahan
SJ -- Eduardo Lopez 2 (Cristian Espinoza 2) 4'
SKC -- Jaylin Lindsey 1 (Alan Pulido 1) 15'
SKC -- Alan Pulido 4 (Daniel Salloi 2) 60'
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 3 (unassisted) 75'
SJ -- Cristian Espinoza (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 9'
SJ -- Andy Rios (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 49'
SKC -- Jaylin Lindsey (yellow card; time wasting) 90'
|Shots on Goal||7||5|
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referee: Ian Anderson
Assistant Referee: Jeff Hosking
Fourth Official: Mark Allatin
VAR: Ricardo Salazar
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert