Sporting Kansas City took care of business on Wednesday night in New York as they defeated the Red Bulls 1-0 at Red Bull Arena to start their cross country road trip. An early Aurelien Collin goal off a Graham Zusi corner kick was all KC needed as they held off the Red Bulls.
Sporting Kansas City had some early success going forward against New York and could have been up in the 9th minute as a failed clearance deflected off a Red Bulls defender into the path of CJ Sapong who turned in on goal, but before he could get a shot off, Jamison Olave made a nice sliding challenge conceding the corner but stopping the chance. KC kept up the early pressure, and Seth Sinovic forced a nice save out of Luis Robles with a shot from range. Off the ensuing corner from Zusi though KC grabbed the lead. Collin held off Olave and beat him to the ball and headed it past Robles and into the net to give KC the lead. The Red Bulls almost responded immediately with a free kick of their own from Juninho. Jimmy Nielsen punched the first effort away but it fell to Thierry Henry who tried to place his shot past Nielsen, but the Dane recovered to know the shot down and it was then cleared away. The Red Bulls looked dangerous throughout the rest of the half, especially on the free kicks from Juninho. Fabian Espindola also caused some problems for the KC back line, but KC was able to keep them from many good chances. Collin did a fantastic job on defense keeping Henry in check for much of the half and recovering well when he needed to.
In the second half, New York continued to bring the game to Kansas City. KC pushed forward for a second which gave New York some space to hit on the counter. Henry missed a decent chance inside the first few minutes of the second half, just curling a shot wide of Nielsen's post. KC though was able to create chances of their own and really should have doubled the lead in the 57th. After a great run by Zusi, he played a nice ball splitting two New York defenders to set up Paulo Nagamura. Nagamura's shot though was right at the feet of Robles who knocked the ball away. If Claudio Bieler had been in that position, KC goes up 2-0. New York's best chance came in the 63rd. A ball over the defense by Roy Miller was misjudged by Matt Besler. Henry controlled the ball and turned on goal but fired his shot just wide of the target. KC continued to withstand the pressure while creating a few chances of their own. CJ Sapong had a shot from range that Robles had to just push away and have cleared for a corner as Nagamura was racing in for the rebound. New York came back down to the other end and it was Nielsen's turn to give up a rebound off a shot from Juninho. Nielsen though was able to recover and jump on the rebound before Henry got a foot to the ball.
The Red Bulls kept pushing the game but in stoppage time were dealt a big blow. After a Red Bulls chance led to a KC goal kick, Nielsen was wasting some time taking his time to get the ball that had rolled back into play. Juninho ran up to the ball, rolled it a little with his foot and then fired it towards Nielsen. Whether he was intending to hit Nielsen or not, he hit him square in the hand, which at the time was in front of his chest. Referee Allen Chapman had no hesitation pulling out the red card and sending off the Brazilian. Nielsen certainly embellished the contact but it's hard to argue that Juninho didn't deserve the red. Speaking of Nielsen's embellishment, that was a major problem for me tonight. KC seemed to be doing a lot more embellishing and time wasting by faking injuries in the game than they have done in the past. Normally I'm ok with some time wasting, but tonight it got to the point where I really was starting to get frustrated and angry with my own team because of the faking injuries. It annoys me the lengths that teams go to now to kill time.
Sporting did have to survive one last chance for the Red Bulls late in stoppage time as a header Markus Holgersson off a free kick was put just wide of KC's goal. The final whistle blew a few seconds after the goalkick though and KC escaped with 3 points.
Wizards Man of the Match - Aurelien Collin - The Frenchman shut down is countryman, Henry for the majority of the game and did a fantastic job of tackling and breaking up chances. He also made the most of his chance offensively.
Honorable Mention - Graham Zusi, CJ Sapong
Player Ratings - Nielsen 7, Myers 6, Collin 8, Besler 6, Sinovic 7, Nagamura 6, Rosell 7, Feilhaber 6, Zusi 7, Bieler 5, Sapong 7. Subs Joseph 5, Olum 5.