In what turned into a fairly physical affair last night at LiveStrong Sporting Park, Sporting KC made a goal by CJ Sapong stand up for the winner as KC got their first win at their new stadium, 1-0 over the San Jose Earthquakes. KC made only 2 changes to the lineup that beat Dallas 4-1 last weekend. Jimmy Nielsen stepped back into goal for Sporting KC while Omar Bravo stepped in for the suspended Milos Stojcev. The Quakes, on a long unbeaten run of their own put out the same lineup that had beaten DC on the weekend 4-2.
The rough play started early, and led to the first good chance for San Jose after a foul. Khari Stephenson lined up a free kick from about 35 yards out in the 21st minute. Stephenson blasted the shot on goal and it took a dip and bounced right in front of Nielsen, who could only get in front of and knock it down. Luke Sassano followed up the chance and cleared it out for a throw in. Shortly after Stephenson's chance KC should have grabbed the lead. Matt Besler played a ball over the top searching for Graham Zusi. Bobby Burling tried to head the ball back to Jon Busch, but didn't get enough on it and Zusi raced through on Busch. But Busch was well off his line, cut down Zusi's angle, forcing the shot wide for a goal kick, although it appeared that Busch got a touch on it on his way through.
The goal seemed to be coming for KC though as they started to get a little bit more of the play, and in the 31st minute they got their goal. Zusi played in a great free kick into the box, a perfect spot that kept Busch glued to his line. Sapong had beaten his defender and laid out striking the ball with his foot past Busch for the first Sporting KC goal at LSP.
KC was unable to find another goal in the first half, but almost went up 2-0 in the first few minutes of the second half. After a poor give away by the Quakes, Zusi played a nice little ball to Sassano. Sassano played a cross into the middle towards Bravo. It didn't reach him, but Steven Beitashour slide in, almost knocking the ball into his own net, but Busch was there to cover the ball before it went in.
After scoring a hattrick against DC, Steven Lenhart was held in check by Aurelien Collin through the night. Collin got deep into Lenhart's head forcing him to pick up a yellow for dissent. Lenhart probably could have been sent off for pushing Collin into Nielsen later in the half, but he only got a talking to. Collin himself also picked up a yellow during the game that will force him to miss the game this Wednesday against Philadelphia. Which will be a big blow for KC's back line as Collin and Besler have formed a good partnership in the back.
As the second half wore on, the Quakes were the ones that looked more like scoring. Tottenham loanee, Simon Dawkins came on at half time and helped turn the game towards the Quakes. Dawkins had some great chances, including cutting inside Collin and firing just wide of Nielsen's near post. He had another great chance off a short free kick, firing towards the far post, but Nielsen made a great diving save. On the same sequence the Quakes had a second chance before the foul where Lenhart pushed Collin into Nielsen. The surprising player that helped shut down Dawkins a little bit was actually Julio Cesar, who was put on in place of Sassano and was basically tasked with shadowing Dawkins for the rest of the match.
KC was able to hold off the Quakes pressure the rest of the game, including some tense minutes when KC was unable to clear their own end. But they were able to hold off the Quakes and secure their first home win of the season. While KC is still in last place in the East, they're now only 1 point behind both New England and Chicago, having played 2 less games than the Revs and 1 less than the Fire.
Wizards Man of the Match - Aurelien Collin - I said his match up with Lenhart was going to be key, and he shut down the Quakes attacker. The match up was physical on and off the ball with both players fouling, but Collin did great to shut down Lenhart, keeping him from really getting into the game, in fact he did a great job of getting into his head and throwing him off his game.
Honorable Mention - CJ Sapong.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 6, Collin 8, Besler 7, Sinovic 6, Diop 5, Sassano 6, Arnaud 6, Zusi 7, Bravo 6, Sapong 7. Subs Cesar 6, Kamara 5, Bunbury NR.