Sunday, August 5, 2012

FIRST PLACE: Road victory for Sporting KC puts team back on top of Eastern Conference

Sporting Kansas City moved into first place in the Eastern Conference on Saturday with a 1-0 road win over the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Teal Bunbury’s breakaway goal in the 20th minute proved to be the difference as Jimmy Nielsen recorded his MLS-leading 10th shutout of the season.

It was Sporting Kansas City with the first chance of the match, coming at the three-minute mark when Bunbury sent in a volley from the right edge of the penalty area that was tipped over the crossbar by Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis.

New England responded six minutes later when Florian Lechner crossed into the penalty area. Michael Harrington intervened, forcing Saer Sene to direct his header wide at the near post.

Sporting Kansas City notched the game’s only goal in the 20th minute when Bunbury pounced on a soft header from Clyde Simms and broke free on goal by poking the ball over Stephen McCarthy. Going one-on-one with an out-rushing Reis, he placed the ball inside the far post for his fourth goal of the season and 20th of his career in MLS competition, including playoffs.

Benny Feilhaber won the ball in the 36th minute, muscling his way into the box and sending an a ball back to Dimitry Imbongo, but the summer signing hit his shot well over the crossbar from 15 yards out.

The final chance of the first half came from a curling effort from Soony Saad that was saved by Reis in the lone minute of added time.

New England started the second half strong, with a dangerous opportunity in the 49th minute when Fernando Cardenas dribbled down midfield, crossing out wide the Chris Tierney. He played the ball back to the center for Imbogo, left all alone at the six-yard box and unable to snap his header beneath the bar.

The home side came close in the 55th minute when Cardenas, a halftime substitution for the Revolution, charged down midfield on a 50-yard run and sent in a blazing shot that was wide of the far left post.

Sporting Kansas City looked to build upon their lead in the 69th minute when Bunbury received a cross from Kamara inside the area and turned to face goal, shooting low with his left foot only to be denied by Reis.

The game’s final 20 minutes saw Sporting Kansas City preserve the clean sheet, only needing a save from Nielsen in the 86th minute when Tierney sent in a low, driving shot from the left.

Sporting KC’s record improves to 12-7-4 with the win, giving the club the most victories amongst Eastern Conference teams entering the final third of the season.

The team is also 6-4-2 on the road in 2012, boasting the best away record in MLS this season and matching the team’s record for most regular season away wins in regulation all-time.

Sporting Kansas City will return home for the team’s marquee match against the Seattle Sounders FC in the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday at LIVESTRONG SportingPark. Tickets for the match are available in limited supply online or at LSP Box Offices.

The match will be broadcast live on GolTV, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340 AM.