Sporting Kansas City claimed their ninth victory of the season and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference by defeating Toronto FC 2-0 on Saturday in front of 20,488 fans, the largest crowd of the season at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
C.J. Sapong scored his team-leading fifth goal of the year and Julio Cesar struck in superb fashion on Graham Zusi’s eighth assist of the season, tying him for most in MLS.
Sporting Kansas City established their dominance and displayed their high-pressure style early on in the match with a counterattack led by Seth Sinovic in the 3rd minute.
Sinovic won the ball just outside of the 18-yard box and made a run down the left flank, passed to Teal Bunbury, who slipped in behind Toronto’s back line and crossed back to Sinovic at the mouth of the goal. Sinovic couldn’t capitalize, but established the tempo of the game nonetheless.
Just a minute later, a free kick from Graham Zusi from 35 yards was struck well but curled wide of the far, right post.
Sporting Kansas City found the back of the net in the 18th minute when Chance Myers, sprinting down the right flank, slipped the ball to Jacob Peterson who made a perfectly-timed cross to Sapong.
The 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year was stationed in front of Toronto’s goal and scored with a right-footed volley. The goal marked Peterson’s first assist for Sporting Kansas City and Sapong has now matched Kei Kamara, absent on international duty on Saturday, for the team lead with five goals this season.
Toronto had an excellent chance of their own in the 30th minute when Eric Avila slipped behind Sporting Kansas City’s back line and settled the ball off of a chip from Torsten Frings and shot low.
The ball proceeded to hit the left post, carom across the goalmouth and bounce into the right post before Aurelien Collin intervened and cleared the ball from danger.
Sporting Kansas City scored again in the 35th minute when Julio Cesar capitalized off of a corner kick from Zusi. Cesar, just outside of the far right post, arrived at Zusi’s cross and struck the ball beneath the crossbar with a powerful, right-footed volley on his first touch.
The goal marked Cesar’s first goal of the season and Zusi’s eight assist, tying 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario for the League lead.
Toronto answered just two minutes later with a chance of their own when Ryan Johnson shot for the far post and missed. Danny Koevermans rebounded with a low header but was stopped by Jimmy Nielsen.
Despite being up by two goals going in to the second half, Sporting KC showed no signs of sitting back. In the 47th minute, Teal Bunbury thundered down the right flank, faked out Doneil Henry, crossed to Zusi in the box but his header went over the crossbar.
Toronto did not back down and showed their ambition in the 61st minute when Jeremy Hall made a piercing, low cross across Sporting KC’s goal to Avila on the left. The Toronto FC midfielder shrugged off Myers and curled the ball just past the far right post.
Toronto kept Nielsen busy in the 70th minute with a dangerous strike from second-half substitute Luis Silva that forced the Sporting KC captain to make a diving save. Toronto continued to pose a threat in the 72nd minute when Julian de Guzman nearly scored off of a corner kick from Frings.
Cesar looked to score his second goal of the night in the 80th minute when he took a hopeful strike from 30 yards out that sailed over the crossbar.
Toronto then continued to push back with a free kick from Frings in the 84th minute that bounced around the box and was settled by Johnson, who shot over the crossbar.
In the first minute of second-half stoppage time, Toronto had their final chance at getting on the board with dangerous ball whipped across the box by Silva that didn’t find its target.
Sporting Kansas City will now return to the road for their next two MLS matches, traveling to Seattle to take on Sounders FC at 9 p.m. CT on Wed., June 20 and then on toPhiladelphia to face the Union at 6 p.m. CT on Sat., June 23.
Both matches will be broadcast live on KSMO-TV at 8 p.m. CT.