Sporting KC Defeats San Jose Earthquakes 3-2
Game Highlights: Graham Zusi and Felipe Gutierrez score sensational second-half goals; Ilie nets first career MLS goal from the penalty spot.
Soccer News: Sporting Kansas City has a rich history — after all, the team is a founding member of the MLS and has won four U.S. Open Cup titles (2004, 2012, 2015, 2017), two MLS Cup championships (2000, 2013) and one Supporters’ Shield (2000). The team, and the city it calls home expects to win.
With 18,858 fans watching, game 3 of 34 for the 2018 MLS Regular Season has been entered into the books and it was a win to celebrate.
The City of Kansas was not disappointed with the results of the second home game of the 2018 season — and the second half was sensational with strikes from Graham Zusi and Felipe Gutierrez, propelling Sporting Kansas City to a 3-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. The win lifted Manager Peter Vermes‘ men into a tie for first place in the Western Conference.
“I thought we were the better team tonight,” said Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes. “I think we’re on the precipice of doing something really good.”
The first goal set the stage for the night.
Ilie opened the scoring with his first career MLS goal in the 25th minute, but San Jose (1-1-0, 3 points) pulled level through Vako Qazaishvili nine minutes later.
The hosts seized control after halftime as Zusi and Gutierrez ignited wild celebrations with a pair of long-range efforts, and though the Earthquakes cut into their deficit with a late goal from Chris Wondolowski, Sporting KC (2-1-0, 6 points) held on to secure all three points on St. Patrick’s Day and post their second successive victory.
“I thought we showed a real hunger,” said Vermes on the team’s play in the second half.
Vermes fielded an unchanged lineup from last weekend’s thrilling 4-3 defeat of the Chicago Fire as his side carried its attacking momentum into Saturday, which served as the 700th regular season match in club history and the 350th at home.
Referee Allen Chapman awarded Sporting KC a penalty kick halfway through the first period when Daniel Salloi slipped a delightful through ball into the path of Russell, who was then chopped down by San Jose goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell.
Tarbell went for the block and Russell went flying over.
Ilie buried the ensuing spot kick to open his MLS scoring account and give Sporting KC their first goal at home since Sept. 24, 2017, snapping a drought of 349 minutes.
One of the highlights of the night was the breathtaking goal from Zusi who became the seventh player in Sporting KC history to reach 20,000 minutes played for the club in all competitions.
Zusi cut centrally from the right wing in the 56th minute and sent a left-footed piledriver into the top left corner from 20 yards.
The jaw-dropping goal was Zusi’s first for Sporting KC since Oct. 23, 2016, in a 2-0 home win over San Jose.
As Vermes said in the press conference after the match ….
“Zusi plays Right Back, any time he scores, is it s a bonus.”
Gutierrez doubled Sporting KC’s advantage in the 68th minute with a left-footed missile that nestled low into the far right corner of the net.
Russell was was clearly happy to assist and came close several times to extending Sporting KC’s lead himself.
Sporting KC’s goalkeeper Tim Melia was stellar, as usual, and he proved to be a great last line of defense.
Just when Sporting KC appeared to be in cruise control, San Jose grabbed a goal back in the first minute of second-half stoppage time. Wondolowski ran onto a lovely ball over the top from Eriksson and sent a shot in off the far left post to tally his 135th career regular season goal, good for second-most all-time.
Sporting KC is back on the road next Saturday to face the Colorado Rapids in an 8 p.m. CT kickoff
San Jose Earthquakes head coach Mikael Stahre said, “First of all, I think we handled the game well in the first half. It was an equal game for sure, and I think we handled the pressure from Sporting Kansas City in a good way. I think we created some really good chances. Then, of course, I am really disappointed we conceded that second goal at that point in the game. Then, the score became 3-1 and in that part of the match they controlled the game totally. We made some changes and we also changed the shape, and we scored a goal from Wondo in stoppage time and put some pressure on them.”
“We came here with the ambition to win the game, or second best to leave with a point,” said Stahre. “We fought until the end and it was really important for us to score the second goal, but I felt at halftime that we could have won the game. Then we conceded the second goal and we lost the momentum. They are a good team, but I think we can take some positive things with us.”
SKC — Ilie 1 (penalty kick) 25
SJ — Vako Qazaishvili 1 (unassisted) 34
SKC — Graham Zusi 1 (Roger Espinoza 2) 56
SKC — Felipe Gutierrez 3 (Daniel Salloi 3, Johnny Russel 2) 68
SJ — Chris Wondolowski 1 (Magnus Eriksson 1) 91+
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C), Seth Sinovic; Felipe Gutierrez, Ilie, Roger Espinoza (Jimmy Medranda 93+); Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton (Yohan Croizet 82), Daniel Salloi (Gerso Fernandes 87)
Subs Not Used: Eric Dick, Emiliano Amor, Jaylin Lindsey, Cristian Lobato
San Jose Earthquakes: Andrew Tarbell; Nick Lima, Yefferson Quintana, Harold Cummings, Shea Salinas (Fatai Alashe 82); Magnus Eriksson, Anibal Godoy, Florian Jungwirth (Jackson Yueill 74), Vako Qazaishvili; Danny Hoesen (Quincy Amarikwa 82), Chris Wondolowski (C)
Subs Not Used: Matt Bersano, Francois Affolter, Jimmy Ockford, Tommy Thompson
Source: Press release from Sporting KC