Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sporting KC wins third in a row, extends lead in standings

Sporting Kansas City won for the seventh time on the road this season, a new club record, with a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC 1-0 on Saturday at BMO Field.

Forward Kei Kamara scored the lone goal of the match, his team-leading ninth of the season, in the 83rd minute off of a low, driving free kick.

Graham Zusi earned his League-best 11th assist of the year on the play and Jimmy Nielsen recorded his 11th shutout of the season, also a League high. Sporting Kansas City remains in first place in the Eastern Conference with 46 points, five points clear of the New York Red Bulls.

Toronto posed a threat in the 12th minute when Torsten Frings took a well-placed free kick that floated just over the crossbar. Just a minute later, Paulo Nagamura sent in a rocket from  35 yards out that went inches high of the top left corner.

Seth Sinovic looked to claim his first professional goal in the 19th minute when he sent in a powerful, low shot from distance that forced goalkeeper Milos Kocic to dive to his left to make the save.

After a great deal of build-up in Toronto’s end, Sporting Kansas City finally found that coveted bit of space to hammer out a chance in the 30th minute. Kamara drove the ball down midfield after beating two men and took a low strike from the top of the box, but was denied by a solid save from Kocic.

Four minutes later, Zusi played a picture-perfect ball from the right flank to Teal Bunbury in the center. Bunbury broke behind the Toronto FC backline and attempted to slot the ball in, but again Kocic was ready to make the save.

Toronto FC saw two chances in the 43rd minute beginning with a corner kick from Frings that rattled the woodwork and was headed back toward goal by Terry Dunfield. The attempt again went off the crossbar, this time striking the top side and going out of play.

The final chance of the first half came again from a burst of speed from Bunbury, who received the ball off of a flick from Kamara, but Kocic prevailed again with his fifth save of the half to send both teams into halftime without a goal.

The second half began with both sides in possession of a renewed energy and sense of urgency.

In the 48th minute, Kamara fired in a shot from distance that bounced off of Kocic’s chest but the rebound was sent out by Toronto’s backline.

Six minutes later, Toronto responded when Ryan Johnson curled in a cross from the left and Eric Hassli won a head that was just wide of the far post.

Roger Espinoza put Toronto to the test in the 63rd minute when he sent in a well-taken effort from the left that Darren O’Dea made an attempt to send out, instead deflecting it just over the goal and nearly in the net.

Toronto fought back seven minutes later when Frings sent in an arching free kick across the goal where Johnson placed his header just over the crossbar.

The lone goal of the match came in the 83rd minute when Zusi nudged the free kick to Kamara, who took a low, driving shot that slid past the wall and into the net past Kocic.

Riding high on a new found confidence, Chance Myers whipped in a shot from distance four minutes later that was just wide of the far left post.

Toronto nearly equalized in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Johnson, on the receiving end of a cross from the right side, sent in a bouncing header that Nielsen reacted well to collect, preserving his clean sheet and lowering his goals against average to 0.88.