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Throwbacks and Three Points: Sporting KC Handle the Quakes

Sporting Kansas City handle their business at home, winning a resounding game against the San Jose Earthquakes.



Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City returned to action after a Toluca-imposed 22-day break during the latter stages of the Leagues Cup. With just nine games to go in MLS league play (and everything to play for), they welcomed the San Jose Earthquakes to Children’s Mercy Park. While the injury report came out Wednesday, late news arrived of a practice ankle injury that kept Gadi Kinda out of the lineup. Besides that, it was a return to the starting lineup for Nemanja Radoja, Tim Melia and Logan Ndenbe, all getting their first starts after various stages of rest and injury recovery.

Despite European transfer rumors for Jeremy Ebobisse and Cade Cowell, they were both in the starting lineup for the Quakes.

First Half

The Earthquakes came out first holding all the control for nearly the first two minutes but the first moment that Sporting KC had the ball, they immediately scored! The ball was worked up the left side of the attack by left back Logan Ndenbe before it came all the way to the right for Johnny Russell who’s cross would sneak through the box for a flick from Daniel Salloi to open the scoring.

Sadly, moments later, on another promising attack, Russell stepped on a defender’s ankle and was down for several minutes. After a long delay getting it worked on, he returned to the sideline to check in and the crowd immediately popped.

Sporting KC would have some half chances after Russell returned to the game, but in the 20th minute hearts leapt into chests as the Earthquakes got deep into the Sporting zone, sending a cross into the box that Cowell couldn’t quite connect cleanly on sending it wide of the post. Melia may have had it covered, but it was a shaky moment for a defense that’s struggled with those this season.

A few minutes later, it got even shakier when the returning Tim Melia gave the ball away off a goal kick straight to San Jose but Dany Rosero bailed him out to force a corner, deflecting the shot over the box. From there, the game got physical. In quick succession Alan Pulido and Erik Thommy got wiped out by SJ players. Fouls were called, but the crowd and most of the Sporting players were upset some cards weren’t issued. The cards would stay in the pocket all night.

In the 35th minute, after a little sustained possession for Kansas City, a long passing sequence ended with Pulido testing the San Jose keeper Daniel, who parried it away but no one followed the shot and Daniel picked up his own spill.

In the 42nd minute, Sporting Kansas City would capitalize on their control of the game, this time Johnny Russell called his own number. After a ball was worked around the attacking third, Russell took it himself, nutmegged his defender, and slammed it home to make it 2-0 to head into halftime.

In case you need that nutmeg in gif form…

Second Half

Despite the ankle injury for Johnny Russell, he came back out to start the second half. The team made no halftime changes. The Earthquakes brought Matthew Hoppe to start the second half. He replaced Cade Cowell.

Sporting came out sleeping to start the second half, as has been their modus operandi all year. However, Melia came up huge stopping the free attacker to keep the two-goal lead. In the 54th minute, Russell’s night came to an end. He struggled through all nine minutes he was out there and took a couple hits in the process before being replaced by Khiry Shelton.

Immediately after the sub, Cristian Espinoza got in deep and whizzed a dangerous ball through the box but neither Ebobisse nor Hoppe could get on the end of it. In the 66th minute, the Quakes made a triple sub, bringing on new signing Ayo Akinola, as well as Paul Marie and Jack Skahan.

Out of nothing, as San Jose started to get a bit stretched, Thommy dribbled the defense and blasted in Sporting KC’s third!

In the 77th minute, Sporting KC made a double sub, bringing on Willy Agada and Marinos Tzionis for Alan Pulido and Daniel Salloi, who both earned a rest. In the 84th minute, despite looking like Remi Walter would sub off after repeated knocks, he fought through it and Roger Espinoza subbed on for Radoja and Remi dropped to defensive midfielder.

In the 85th minute, San Jose had their best chance of the game when sub Skahan got in on the defense but pushed a shot wide under pressure from the defense and Melia.

The clean sheet would come into jeopardy late as Logan Ndenbe gave up a late PK foul, once again against Skahan, when he got his legs tangled up in the box.

However, Tim Melia does what he does and comes up with a big save!

Sporting closed it out 3-0. Sporting Kansas City are back in action next Saturday, hosting St. Louis City SC in their new rivals first trip to KC.

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