It wasn't pretty, especially early, but Sporting Kansas City took care of business and won their 4th straight opening day game, and 4th straight on the road. Sporting KC pulled out a 3-1 win at PPL Park to open the 2013 season with a win.
From the start, Sporting looked shaky, especially in the back. Just over 3 minutes in, the Union had the first really good chance. Gabriel Farfan received a cross inside KC's box, but Jimmy Nielsen made the first save, giving up a rebound to Farfan. The rebound though, was knocked over the bar for a goal kick. In the 17th minute, KC paid for their poor performance early on. Chanc Myers let a ball roll through his legs to Keon Daniel. Daniel collected the ball and played it into the middle, where Sebastien Le Toux had worked his way between Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic. Le Toux took a touch and fired a shot that Nielsen couldn't keep out, giving the Union a 1-0 lead. The Union continued to make Sporting look poor and in the 22nd, should have doubled their lead. Sheanon Williams got played in behind KC's defense and led a break. Williams passed the ball over to a Le Toux. With the goal at his mercy and Nielsen already going to his left, Le Toux shot to Nielsen's right, but pushed the ball wide of the post. Only a few minutes later, Michael Farfan forced a good save out of Nielsen off a restart from just outside the box. In the 41st minute, Sporting found themselves level, against the run of play. Bobby Convey started the play on the left, winning a ball well against two Union players. Convey raced down the field and then fired a cross towards Claudio Bieler as he raced into the box. Bieler smartly headed the ball back into the path of Benny Feilhaber. Felhaber fired a shot of goal, but it was right at Zac MacMath. MacMath though didn't hold the shot and the rebound fell to Graham Zusi. Zusi fired the rebound past MacMath and into the net to level the scoring only 5 minutes before the half.
The goal was a game changer for both Sporting and Philadelphia. On Kansas City's side, after a firsts half where Sporting didn't seem interested and didn't appear ready to play, KC came out and showed they were the better side in the second. Right from the start KC controlled the second. Bieler fired just wide of the goal only a few minutes in. Then in the 65th, Sporting did take the lead. Off of a free kick by Zusi, Oriol Rosell found himself completely unmarked in the box and the Spaniard flicked his header on past MacMath and into the net giving Kansas City the lead 2-1. KC continued to be the more aggressive side up 2-1 but couldn't find a third. At the other end of the field Philadelphia had trouble creating chances, but did almost find a way back into the game thanks to KC. A cross to the back post was headed back into the middle of the box where Besler attempted to chest the ball back to Nielsen. Nielsen though was out of position and had to make a diving save to avoid an own goal. Only a few minutes after that Nielsen was called upon to make another important save. A Le Toux cross found Jack McInerney in the middle of the box, but Nielsen got in front of the header and pushed it wide.
In the 82nd minute, Sporting finally found a 3rd. Sporting worked the ball from one side of the field to the other, where it made it's way to Zusi. Zusi cut inside and fired a cross to the back post where Myers one touched it back to Bieler who was just inside the box. Bieler took a touch and then fired a shot into the corner that beat MacMath to make it 3-1 KC. Sporting were able to effectively kill the game off after that and were able to walk away from Philly with a 3-1 win.
Wizards Man of the Match - Graham Zusi - Had a hand in all 3 Sporting goals, getting a goal and 2 assists, Zusi looked good today, and was able to help pull the strings for Kansas City's attack.
Honorable Metion - Claudio Bieler
Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Myers 6, Collin 5, Besler 5, Sinovic 5, Nagamura 5, Rosell 6, Feilhaber 5, Convey 6, Bieler 7, Zusi 8. Subs Sapong 5, Joseph NR, Jerome - NR