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Sporting Kansas City dominates st. louis city sc 4-1 in the opening leg of their playoff series

Sporting Kansas City waxes that ass and sends the toasted ravioli faithful home disappointed in the opening match of the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs



Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City traveled to the armpit of America late on a Sunday night to take on the pink-clad Western Conference one seed, st. louis city sc. The two teams met three times in the 2023 regular season, with the home team winning each time.  st. louis won 11 home games this season with nine of those wins coming when they scored three or more goals. Meanwhile, Sporting struggled mightily on the road, winning three, losing eight, and drawing six.

As Peter Vermes opted for two changes from the starting XI that advanced past San Jose in the Wild Card Round. Winger, Khiry Shelton, came on for Sporting KC captain, Johnny Russell. Gadi Kinda replaced Erik Thommy in the midfield. Russell and Thommy began the game on the bench. Notably absent from the squad was striker, Willy Agada. He was a late scratch due to illness.

st. louis started the game in a 4-2-3-1 with stars Joao Klauss, Eduard Lowen, and Roman Burki. Forwards and Sporting KC pests, Nicholas Gioacchini and Samuel Adeniran, started the game on the bench for the hosts.

Despite the pounding rain, the home fans packed the stadium, fueled by marinara sauce and a raging inferiority complex, prepared to heckle, roast, and cajole the visitors from Kansas City whenever possible.


The early minutes of the game saw Sporting Kansas City play without the ball, forcing st. louis to possess and play offense, an uncomfortable position for the hosts who were near the bottom of the league in possession on the year. In the fourth minute, Klauss took down Dany Rosero and then threw a giant temper tantrum, drawing an eyebrow from referee, Ted Unkel, but no real punishment. The early tone of the game was very physical, which favored the hosts and Ted Unkel was happy to oblige. Alan Pulido took a nice touch and was shoulder checked to the ground by Tim Parker, who made no play on the ball. Unkel waved play on and st. louis hoofed the ball down the field to pressure the defense.

In the seventh minute, Daniel Salloi earned the first corner kick of the night for Sporting KC. His kick was short and low. It pinged around the box for a moment before being cleared. In the 11th minute, Logan Ndenbe was pulled down and st. louis raced down the field. A late whistle from Unkel drew the ball back and earned the vitriol of the crowd. Shortly after, Sporting started to probe the st. louis defense, combining for some dangerous play around the box, but unable to put a shot on target.

Despite repeated tantrums from Indiana Vassilev and Joao Klauss, the first yellow card of the game was earned by Gadi Kinda, who should have earned a throw in, but Unkel missed the call and rewarded it to st. louis. Kinda slammed the ball to the ground and yelled at Unkel, drawing a card for dissent.

st. louis earned a free kick in a dangerous position in the 21st minute when Dany Rosero was called for a foul while wrestling with Klauss. The initial free kick was cleared, but Indiana Vassilev eventually launched a howitzer on the volley at Tim Melia. The KC keeper was unable to corral the ball but did turn it away and Sporting eventually escaped danger. Shortly thereafter, Lowen tackled Khiry Shelton to the ground, NFL style, and a free kick was awarded about 20 yards from goal. Gadi Kinda stood over the ball but was unable to find anyone at the back post.

st. louis earned another free kick right outside the box when Remi Walter clattered into Anthony Markanich. Eduard Lowen drove his spot kick hard towards the back post, hoping to earn a bounce that would put Tim Melia under pressure. The ball rolled out for a goal kick and danger was averted.

Sporting Kansas City opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Logan Ndenbe was found at the top of the box with loads of space. A Sporting KC throw in was poorly defended by st. louis. The ball rolled to Ndenbe out wide and he rifled his shot to the far post and past Roman Burki to open his Sporting KC account and give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

st. louis immediately marched downfield and earned a corner kick in the 28th minute. The ball fell to Tim Parker in the box, who turned around and slotted it past Tim Melia to level the game literal moments later. Parker found himself open after Nemanja Radoja and Alan Pulido collided in the box and Sporting’s advantage was very short-lived.

Klauss tested Melia from range in the 30th minute but his shot stayed too close to the center of the goal and Melia was able to get down to make the save.

As the match settled into minutes of back and forth, but hardly dangerous play, Sporting KC took the lead again. Alan Pulido cut a ball back across the box to Gadi Kinda, who weakly fired a shot at Burki. The Swiss keeper failed to capture the ball and allowed a rebound that fell to Remi Walter, who took a touch and fired one into the back of the net to put the visitors up again. 2-1 Sporting Kansas City in the 38th minute.

Gadi Kinda, who had struggled with his consistency to start the game, launched another shot past Roman Burki in the 39th minute to seemingly give Sporting KC a 3-1 lead. Noted st. louis homer, taylor twellman, called for a VAR to suggest that Khiry Shelton handled the ball off of Tim Melia’s goal kick. A replay showed that it bounced off his shoulder and fell to Kinda before the shot. VAR took a lengthy view but did not call Unkel over to the monitor for a review.  3-1 Sporting Kansas City.

st. louis finally earned a yellow after a very late, nasty challenge from Aziel Jackson on Remi Walter. Despite two yellows, four combined goals, and a lengthy diplomacy session between Unkel, Walter, and Jackson on a set piece, the fourth official held up a board that showed one minute of stoppage time to close out the first half. Unkel allowed the teams to play for an additional thirty seconds but blew the whistle and the teams entered the locker room with Sporting holding a 3-1 lead over the pink team.


st. louis led the possession battle 62-38.

Sporting Kansas City led shots 6-5 (4-3). The xG slightly favored the visitors, 0.3 to 0.2.

st. louis out passed Kansas City 246 (77.2% accuracy) to 154 (66.2% accuracy).

Both teams were whistled for six fouls and one yellow.


Surprisingly, neither team opted for a halftime substitution.

In the 48th minute, Gadi Kinda earned a free kick along the left sideline. His free kick didn’t find anyone, and Sporting missed a dangerous opportunity. Sporting KC earned another dangerous opportunity when Logan Ndenbe nutmegged a defender and fired a low cross through the top of the box. It eventually found Gadi Kinda who took one touch too many. He was able to get a shot off, but it was weak and was easily saved by Burki.

In the 52nd minute, Roman Burki made a great save on a shot by Daniel Salloi. The action started with Khiry Shelton carrying the ball into the box. His cutback pass skipped past Alan Pulido’s leg but found Salloi who tried to add to the Kansas City lead. Burki, like he has all year, made a great save to keep the game within two goals.

In the 58th minute, Jared Stroud went into the book for a late challenge on Remi Walter, going through the back of the French midfielder. st. louis immediately made a pair of changes. Aziel Jackson was replaced by forward Sam Adeniran and Anthony Markanich making way for defender Kyle Hiebert.

Right after the double substitution, Sporting KC earned a corner kick off of a deflected shot by Alan Pulido. Gadi Kinda took the corner kick, found Pulido short for a flick on header. The ball fell to Daniel Salloi at the back post and the Hungarian Assassin smashed the ball home to increase the lead to 4-1.

Daniel Salloi earned a foul deep in st. louis territory after Tim Parker jumped on top of him/tackled him. Unkel blew the whistle for a foul but did not card the st. louis centerback.

Gadi Kinda’s ensuing free kick nearly found the net in a quasi Olympico attempt but was pushed over the bar by Burki. The ensuing corner kick found Dany Rosero who headed it on frame but right into the body of Tim Parker, who cleared it off the line.

st. louis’ frustration began to show in the final thirty minutes of the game. Jake Nerwinski pulled Khiry Shelton to the ground, earning another free kick in an attacking position. The ball found Andreu Fontas at the back post. Fontas found Radoja who clipped it to Khiry Shelton who put a shot on target but saw his attempt saved by Burki.

In the 70th minute, Eduard Lowen earned a yellow for kicking the ball away after Khiry Shelton earned another foul. The hosts won a corner kick in the 72nd minute. Lowen’s corner missed everyone but eventually found Klauss after Jared Stroud controlled the ball. Klauss fired off a shot, but Tim Melia turned it away and kept the score 4-1.

In the 73rd, each team made a substitution. Eduard Lowen was replaced by Gioacchini for the home team while Peter Vermes put Erik Thommy in for Gadi Kinda.

In the 78th minute, Njabulo Blom earned a yellow for his foul on Nemanja Radoja. The st. louis faithful rained down chants of “ref you suck.” It was a marginal foul, but Blom committed multiple fouls during the game and is a famously sloppy and violent player. This yellow can be politely referred to as the proper justice for Logan Ndenbe.

In the 80th minute, Jake Nerwinski and Indiana Vassilev were substituted for Akil Watts and Celio Pompeu respectively.

Right after the substitutions, Daniel Salloi found himself in acres of space, but his ensuing shot fell harmlessly into the arms of Roman Burki. The hosts made their way back down the field with Blom taking a shot from distance that was easily saved by Tim Melia.

Peter Vermes removed Alan Pulido from the match in the 85th minute, replacing the designated player, and captain for the evening, with Sporting KC legend, Roger Espinoza. Espinoza made an immediate impact on the game when Sam Adeniran earned a yellow card for an extremely late challenge on the substitute.

In the dying embers of the game, the teams continued to engage in chippy behavior. The fourth official indicated there would be two minutes of stoppage time and the visitors were hoping to get out of the Missouri hellhole without any injuries. Tim Melia made another massive save after a free kick by Celio and his very fake teeth found the head of Joao Klauss. Klauss’ shot was right at the Sporting KC keeper, who was able to get down to his right and make the save.

Ted Unkel blew the final whistle, giving Sporting KC their third win in 27 road playoff matches.


st. louis won the final possession battle 57-43.

Sporting KC outshot the hosts 15-10 (11-6).

The pink team out passed Sporting KC.

Dogfood FC committed 17 fouls and earned 5 yellow cards to Sporting KC’s 14 and 1.

Sporting won the final xG battle 1.6 to 0.3.

While the boys in blue were out-possessed and out-passed, that was by design. Sporting forced the hosts to use the ball, a tactic that the pinks were uncomfortable with.

Sporting now heads back to Kansas City on Sunday, November 4, in an attempt to close out the series and close this first chapter of the I-70 derby on a huge note.

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