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Sporting KC falls 4-1 to St. Louis CITY as playoff hopes dim

Sporting KC fell 4-1 against St. Louis City who scored four goals in 17 minutes to earn the victory and win the first season series.



Credit: Thad Bell

With just three games remaining in the 2023 season, Sporting Kansas City traveled to St. Louis on Saturday night with their playoff lives on the line. Needing to make up at least two points in the last three matches to even have a shot at the playoffs, Kansas City didn’t have any room for error. They certainly couldn’t have a repeat of the inaugural match between these two sides when STL won 4-0 back in May.

Unfortunately, things did not go as planned for Sporting KC.

The first 30 minutes of the match didn’t have much action as both teams largely seemed to be feeling each other out. Tim Melia did have two important saves after some defensive mishaps and a loose ball in the box, but other than that it was a relatively calm affair.

Things took a turn after the half hour mark. Saint Louis really started asserting their attack, and fullback Anthony Markanich sent a ball across the face of goal that Klauss got a foot to but couldn’t quite redirect on frame.

Moments later Sporting KC answered with a couple chances of their own, coming in the form of a Daniel Salloi shot near the side of the six yard box and a Felipe Guttierez shot about 15 yards out from goal. Burki had to pounce on both shots to keep the game scoreless, but neither tested the Swiss international with too much vigor.

In the final seven minutes of the half the game started to turn very chippy. STL forward Samuel Adeniran took down Jake Davis with a very hard tackle that multiple Sporting KC players took exception to, most notably Erik Thommy. While Adeniran probably should have been shown a yellow card, Armando Villarreal let him off with just a warning.

Minutes later Davis returned the favor as he tackled Markanich with a bit of fervor. The St. Louis fullback popped up and shoulder checked Davis to show his displeasure, which caused Villarreal to show the first card of the game in an attempt to cool things down.

The game remained scoreless despite some end-to-end play for the rest of the half.

The second half stared similar to the first half with both teams easing into it, but as soon as the game hit the 60 minute mark things took off again. Daniel Salloi had a chance for Sporting KC that went off the underside of the cross bar yet somehow didn’t go in. Moments later, a nearly identical situation happens on the other end of the field, but this time it was Klauss who put the shot over the cross bar.

Sporting continued to fight but the pressure from St. Louis began to mount after 65th minute. It suddenly seemed as if St. Louis smelled blood in the water, and it seemed only a matter of time before they found it.

In the 73rd minute Sporting KC gave up a set piece in the attacking third, and STL forward Samuel Adeniran perfectly got a head to the ball that went just over Alan Pulido and redirected it past Tim Melia to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.

A mere three minutes later, Jared Stroud dribbled around the Sporting KC box until he found just enough space to double St. Louis’ lead with a shot to the right of Tim Melia.

If two wasn’t enough to seal the three points for St. Louis, striker João Klauss perfectly volleys a cross to give St. Louis their third goal in seven minutes.

And if you wanted to re-live the nightmare that was May 20, when Sporting KC lost their first match here by a scoreline of 4-0, Klauss made sure you could do just that as he poked this ridiculous shot past Melia for St. Louis’ fourth goal in of the night.

Right before the game ended forward Willy Agada did head one past Burki to give Sporting KC their lone goal across two matches on the road in St. Louis.

Sporting have now finished their first two matches at CITY Park having been thoroughly shellacked by a combined 8-1, something that will certainly sit with Peter Vermes for the entirety of the offseason. While St. Louis CITY fight for first place in the West, Sporting seem to be going in the opposite direction.

Even though there just two games left in the season, there’s still mathematical hope left for Sporting to make the playoffs, but they’ll have to win on the road in Salt Lake City and at home on Decision Day against Minnesota and then hope the rest of the chips fall in their favor. It won’t be easy, and it’s a very uphill battle.

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