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Sporting KC lose 2-1 after Vela wins it late

Sporting KC end a four game unbeaten run with a 2-1 loss at home to LAFC, with Carlos Vela scoring a late winner for the defending champs.



Credit: Thad Bell

A four game unbeaten run came to an end for Sporting KC on Saturday night after a late winner from Carlos Vela gave LAFC the 2-1 victory.

The defending MLS champs were without several key players. Denis Bouanga is tied for the league’s leading scorer with ten goals, but he is playing for Gabon. Jose Cifuentes is out with Ecuador. And Mahala Opoku served a red card suspension. Additionally, their star man Carlos Vela also started on the bench.

Despite missing so many players, LAFC were unafraid and came out of the gates with a high press. They produced the match’s first big chance in just the 2nd minute, when Kendall McIntosh had to pounce off his line to block a shot from Stipe Biuk.

But Sporting KC were able to break the pressure and move the ball up the field. A VAR decision in the 17th minute would give them a penalty kick and the breakthrough. Gadi Kinda was taken down in the box as he played the ball out of bounds. LAFC will feel hard done but the referee reviewed the play and decided it was a penalty kick. Alan Pulido stepped up and smashed it home for the 1-0 lead.

The 32-year-old Mexican striker, in the midst of contract negotiations and rumors about his future, has become the hottest player in MLS right now. In the last three matches, he has four goals and an assist to boot.

The visitors were clearly missing some firepower throughout the first 45 minutes. The Sporting KC defense, bolstered by the return of Dany Rosero to the Starting XI, held LAFC to just one single shot the entire half. The home side had three on target after nine total shots.

Carlos Vela was one of three subs made by Steve Cherundolo at halftime. His side responded by equalizing just three minutes into the second half. On the second effort after a corner kick, Mateusz Bogusz crossed it into the box for Denil Maldonado to head it passed McIntosh. LAFC nearly took the lead just moments later on other header, but VAR confirmed the offside call.

After the quick flurry of pressure from LA, Sporting were able to regain control. Peter Vermes freshened things up in the 58th minute with a double sub. Khiry Shelton replaced Gadi Kinda and Roger Espinoza for Tim Leibold. SKC continued to win the possession battle and had a few more chances on goal, with Remi Walter and Nemanja Radoja coming close.

Johnny Russell also made his return to the field in the 75th minute and quickly got back to his old tricks. He made a couple patented runs into the box, but they couldn’t find the winner.

But the winner for LAFC came just before stoppage time. Shelton was late to push forward, keeping Carlos Vela onside for one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.

Roger Espinoza thought he leveled the match in the 92nd minute with a header. This time, however, VAR came back to bite them. The referee decided Khiry had committed a foul in the build up and the goal was reversed. But KC kept pushing. Dany Rosero came within inches in the dying moments.

But the final whistle blew amidst boos from around the stadium. Sporting KC broke a four game unbeaten run with the 2-1 loss.

SKC head to California to face the other team, the LA Galaxy, on Wednesday. It’ll be soccer after dark with a late 9:30pm kickoff.

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