Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sporting KC atop East after 3-0 win over Toronto

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Sporting Kansas City extended their unbeaten run to five consecutive games with a 3-0 win over Toronto FC Saturday night at Sporting Park. Soony Saad scored twice and Claudio Bieler tallied once as Sporting KC moved into first place in the Eastern Conference.

Playing in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,126 - the largest crowd in Sporting Park history - Sporting KC took the game to the visitors early and opened up the scoring in the 21st minute.

The play started on the left flank when Seth Sinovic pushed the ball up the field and split a pair of defenders with a pass to Saad. The Lebanese international took one touch and pulled a quick strike to the near post past a lunging Joe Bendik.

Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen recorded two saves Saturday night for his League-leading eighth shutout in 2013 and 40th in his MLS career, most in club history. The victory also moves Nielsen in a tie with Tony Meola for most career wins by a KC goalkeeper with 49 in the regular season.

The Danish goalkeeper's only action came in the 18th minute when Robert Earnshaw charged up the field and passed to an open Bobby Convey.

The former Sporting KC midfielder cut to the middle of the pitch and found Jeremy Brockie inside Sporting KC's penalty box. Nielsen parried Brockie's first attempt and smothered the rebound with his body to keep the visitors off the board.

Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik made seven saves on the night, including one-on-one stops against Benny Feilhaber in the 32nd minute and Bieler in the 49th minute.

Saad increased Sporting KC's lead in the 51st minute for his second career multi-goal game in all competition, after scoring a brace in last year's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The 20-yeard-old winger dribbled into Toronto's attacking third and found Graham Zusi at the top of the penalty box.

Zusi took a touch and fired a low shot on goal. Bendik stopped the initial attempt, but Saad followed up the play and found the open net to extend Sporting KC's lead.

Down a goal, Toronto FC was forced to play down a man for the final 34 minutes after Reggie Lambe was ejected for a late tackle on Saad.

Sporting KC took advantage of the extra man and found a third goal in the 63rd minute. The goal resulted from a 12-pass sequence that saw nine different Sporting KC players touch the ball. The ball came to Saad, who faked a shot and fed Kei Kamara on the left side of the penalty box.

Kamara one-touched the ball to Feilhaber, who looked off Bendik and Richard Eckersley and found an open Bieler eight yards from goal.

The Argentine international wasted no time tapping the ball into the empty net for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.

Aurelien Collin nearly added a fourth goal for Sporting KC but his headed goal in the 76th minute was waived off for an offside call on Kamara.

Sporting KC will resume league play next Saturday when they travel to Sandy, Utah to take on Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The match will kick off at 9 p.m. CT and can be seen on KSMO-TV.