Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sporting Continue Unbeaten Start

Sporting Kansas City continued their unbeaten start to the 2016 MLS season with a 1-0 win over the visiting Toronto FC at Children's Mercy Park. The win moves KC to 3-0 the only team with three wins through three games so far this season.

For the third straight game Kansas City started the same lineup, starting Connor Hallisey with Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi up top while Jordi Quintilla filled in for Benny Feilhaber in midfield. The first half as a whole lacked for excitement as neither team got any real quality looks on goal. KC's best chance came from a flick by Roger Espinoza in the ninth minute off a Graham Zusi corner kick. His shot though was cleared out for another corner that came to nothing for Sporting KC. Toronto's best chance of the first half came in the 40th minute when Sebastian Giovinco got behind the KC defense, cut back inside and squared a ball to Will Johnson, but his shot was right at Tim Melia who made the save.

KC made one change at half time, bringing on Brad Davis for Hallisey, but the move didn't pay dividends immediately for KC, instead it was Toronto that created the best chance in the game up to that point as Giovinco played a nice through ball to Tsubasa Endoh who had gotten in behind Chance Myers. Endoh fired a shot on goal that Melia got a hand on and was able to push onto the cross bar to keep it out and keep Kansas City level. Davis brought some much needed fire for KC though, causing trouble for the Toronto defense and Toronto as a whole when he didn't play the ball out when a Toronto player was down hurt, instead playing until referee Baldomero Toledo blew his whistle. Less than 10 minutes after Endoh's chance KC grabbed the lead. A long ball over the top by Nuno Coelho was flicked on by Dom Dwyer into the path of Davis. Davis muscled defender Justin Morrow off the ball, and with no foul called Davis continued to play, cutting back a bit and curling a shot into the far corner to put KC on top 1-0. From that point Toronto really pushed the game and Giovinco started to find space more and more on the back shoulder of the Sporting KC defense, but Melia was up to the effort of keeping the Italian out of the net. Things got even more interesting in the 84th minute when a heavy touch by Espinoza let the ball get away from him into the path of Marco Delgado. Espinoza arrived at the play late, catching Delgado with a cleat in the ankle area and referee Baldomero Toledo did not hesitate to go to the back pocket, putting KC down a man for the next six minute plus stoppage time. KC rode out the storm though, including a late Giovinco free kick that Chance Myers blocked with his face to give Kansas City all three points.

Wizards Man of the Match - Nuno Coelho - Coelho and his center back partner, Matt Besler did a good job of shutting down Giovinco. While shutting down isn't the right term for the situation as Giovinco is going to get his chances, Coelho and Besler were able to limit his chances to opportunities away from goal and at odd angles that Melia was able to deal with.

Honorable Mention - Matt Besler, Brad Davis

Player Ratings - Melia 7, Dia 6, Besler 8, Coelho 8, Myers 7, Mustivar 6, Espinoza 6, Quintilla 5, Zusi 5, Dwyer 5, Hallisey 4. Davis 7, Olum NR.

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