Sporting Kansas City's Champions League run ended about a month ago, but tonight Kansas City officially ended their run in the tournament tonight defeating Trinidad squad, Central FC 3-1 with three players scoring their first goal for the club.
Kansas City started off on the front foot and were inexplicably unable to score in the eighth minute off an Alex Molano free kick. The Swope Park Rangers' midfielder's free kick bounced into the box with no Central FC player going for it, it came to Nuno Coelho who headed the ball towards goal where it bounced off the cross bar and inside of the far post, rebounding out to Connor Hallisey who tried to shoot through traffic but his effort was blocked. Kansas City kept getting forward with ease against the two time Trinidad champions but were unable to find a goal. Hallisey seemed to epitomize that frustration when he received a ball over the top, cut inside to goal, but took one too many touches, pushed the ball wide and lost his shooting angle making an easy save by Jan-Michael Williams in the Central goal.
Defensively KC seemed in control for much of the half, but did look a little shaky on the counter, having an offside call go in their favor early in the half. Late in the half though another counter allowed Central to grab the lead as Ike Opara got caught out of position keeping Jem Gordon onside as he received a through ball by Sean Da Silva and beat Alec Kann. The goal came completely against the run of play but ended up giving Central the lead heading into the half time break.
KC didn't take long to respond in the second half as less than five minutes in they were level as Tomas Granitto played a ball over the top to Cameron Porter who had gotten behind Central's defense. With Williams coming out of goal, Porter got the ball over him and into the far corner to level the score at 1-1. It didn't remained level for long as Kansas City took their first lead of the game just six minutes later. After Central worked their way into KC's half of the field, Jimmy Medranda quickly won the ball and played it forward to Benji Joya, in his debut for the club Joya immediately found Hallisey streaking down the wing. Hallisey cut back against his defender and played a ball across the top of the box to Nansel Selbol who danced around a defender or two before firing a shot into the corner for his first goal for Sporting.
Selbol continued to be a problem for the Central defense and almost scored two more goals but twice hit the post. The first came after a great cross by Ever Alvarado that Selbol volleyed out of the air towards goal and hit off the post. The second came later in the game after some good footwork by Selbol to get space he curled a shot through the legs of his defender, but it hit the outside of the post and went out.
KC had to wait until second half stoppage time for their third goal as Porter was brought down in the box leading to a penalty kick. Hallisey immediately stepped up to take the ball and placed the ball out of reach of the goalkeeper for his first professional goal. His reaction said it all for him as he celebrated with what seemed like a sense of relief that he'd finally scored. KC killed the final few minutes to clinch second in the group and will now look towards Sunday and their game against San Jose.
Wizards Man of the Match - Nansel Selbol - The former Sporting KC academy player was a handful tonight for the Central FC defense with his speed and fast feet. He created a number of chances and was close to a hattrick as he hit the post twice. His goal was also well taken as he created space at the top of the box.
Player Ratings - Kann 6, Alvarado 7, Opara 5, Coelho 6, Medranda 7, Granitto 7, Molano 7, Joya 8, Hallisey 7, Porter 7, Selbol 8. Subs Olum 7.