Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sporting KC invades Canada, crosses border with three points

Sporting Kansas City defeated the Montreal Impact by a 3-1 score line Wednesday at Stade Saputo in Montreal. After falling behind in the 49th minute on a goal from Patrice Bernier, Sporting KC came back with goals from Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi and Jacob Peterson in a 25-minute span.

Sporting Kansas City improved their record to 10-5-2 and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference, just one point shy of D.C. United.

Montreal had the first chance of the night in the fifth minute with a sharp ball from the Italian Designated Player Marco Di Vaio through to Felipe Martins, but Jimmy Nielsen snuffed out the play with his first of five saves on the night.

Just one minute later, Di Vaio proved to be dangerous again and nearly scored but was just wide of the far post with his shot across the goal.

Sporting Kansas City’s first chance came in the 12th minute from a header from Matt Besler, which was cleared at the near post off a corner kick from Zusi. The visitors continued to attack in the 21st minute with a crack from Roger Espinoza 25 yards out that was easily saved by Donovan Ricketts.

Trouble came again for Sporting Kansas City one minute later from a well-taken free kick from Felipe that was sharply headed by Di Vaio. Nielsen reacted well to keep the ball out at the upper corner and keep the match scoreless.

Three minutes later, Davy Arnaud, the former Sporting Kansas City captain, nearly scored against his former club with a sliding shot just wide of the right post off of a low cross from Justin Mapp.

The 29th minute saw more havoc from Di Vaio when he settled the ball with one touch and turned at nearly midfield and made a run at goal, past the Sporting KC back-line and shot just wide of the post.

Sporting Kansas City responded with a chance of their own four minutes later when Kamara received a curling ball from Zusi and rose above his marker to win the ball, but his header went inches wide of the post.

Mapp was denied a goal in the 38th minute after Felipe, charging down the middle, passed wide to Mapp, who shot low with ample power, but was turned away by a stellar save from Nielsen.

Montreal struck within four minutes of the start to the second half, netting their lone goal in the 49th minute when Felipe made a perfectly-timed run past the defense. Receiving the ball from Zarek Valentin, the Brazilian’s cross found Bernier alone at the top of the area and he made no mistake in burying his shot on a first-time finish. It was his fourth goal of the season and second of the year against Sporting Kansas City.

Sporting KC found a way back into the game in the 55th minute, earning a penalty off of a handball in the box from the goal-scorer Bernier. Kamara converted the penalty, notching his team-leading sixth goal of the season and successfully ending the club’s goal-scoring drought of 320 minutes without a goal scored.

With 30 minutes left in the game and an even scoreline, Sporting Kansas City did better to break down Montreal’s back-line and generate more chances. A free kick from Roger Espinoza in the 68th minute beat the wall but floated just over the crossbar.

The eventual game-winner for Sporting Kansas City came in the 74th minute when a Arnaud was ruled to have taken down second-half substitute Soony Saad while fighting for position on a corner kick. Zusi stepped up to the spot and converted a minute later with a right-footed shot to the right of Ricketts.

Nine minutes later, Sporting Kansas City sealed their comeback with a volley from Peterson. Espinoza crossed the ball from the left to Peterson, stationed at the corner of the box with plenty of room, and he controlled the ball with his chest and struck before the ball could hit the ground.

The shot skimmed off former Sporting KC defender Shavar Thomas en route and sailed past Ricketts inside the near post for Peterson’s second goal in his past four appearances for Sporting KC.

Montreal nearly notched their second goal of the match in the first minute of stoppage time off of a wide-struck header from Justin Braun, sent in to him on a corner kick. Two minutes later, Felipe took a shot from 40 yards out that was well-struck but scooped up by Nielsen.

Sporting Kansas City will return home to host the Houston Dynamo at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Championship. Tickets for the match, sponsored by Outback, are available online at or at the LSP Box Offices.