#MLSisBack – Sporting KC vs NYCFC
New York City FC came to Sporting KC on a mission and left triumphant and the team with last season’s best defense in the MLS starts off this season allowing two goals in.
In his MLS debut, NYCFC’s Jesus Medina scored and helped set up Maxi Moralez’s opening goal.
Soccer News: The excitement for the kick off for the 2018 MLS Regular Season was in full glory in Kansas City.
Sporting Kansas City (0-1-0, 0 points) home-opener against New York City FC (1-0-0, 3 points) before a capacity crowd of nearly 21,000 soccer fans did not go as planned for the home team. Falling 2-0 to the visitors at Children’s Mercy Park was a surprise — Sporting KC has not lost a home-opening since 2009 and only three ever.
NYCFC welcomed ten new players into the squad in the offseason as the team opened it’s fourth year in MLS with a trip to Children’s Mercy Park to meet the reigning U.S. Open Cup champions, Sporting Kansas City Sunday night.
It was as if NYCFC was transported to a European stadium where, as visitors, they faced the hometown fans flying flags and chanting “We Will Win” — but the victory was not to belong to the heartland.
“I think it’s very well known from our perspective we think we have great fans,” said Sporting KC Head Coach / Manager Peter Vermes.
Looking to better last year’s second-place finish overall, NYCFC made a confident, fluent start. Winning requires converting those important scoring opportunities and Sporting KC managed only a few shots on goal, none which found the back of the net. 3 Yellow Cards and One Red later — all earned by NYCFC, the visitors from the City that Never Sleeps won the match.
Reigning 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia had a tough opener with two goals finding their way past him — the first, a perfect play executed with the help of NYCFC’s fan favorite David Villa, the league’s top scorer over the last three seasons.
Villa sent the ball to Maxi Moralez from the left side of the box for a simple finish from close range.
Three MLS newcomers highlighted Sporting KC’s starting lineup, as midfielder Felipe Gutierrez and wingers Yohan Croizet and Johnny Russell donned Sporting KC uniforms for the first time after arriving from abroad as high-profile offseason signings.
It was clear to fans that Russell — as a new powerful striker for the team — stole the show, already showing his force on the pitch.
The second goal for NYCFC came in the 53rd minute, when midfielder Yangel Herrera spread the ball wide left to Ben Sweat, whose precise cross into the box was settled by the 20-year-old Medina near the penalty spot and tucked into the right corner of the net.
Technology played its part twice in the match when Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Jon Freemon was called into action. A penalty kick was overturned which had originally been awarded to Sporting KC when Salloi tumbled in the box in the 79th minute and then seven minutes later when upon video review, a straight red card was awarded to Chanot for the denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
“Obviously, it stops the game and that’s not the best,” said Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi.” We still have to get used to it. At the same time, if the referee makes a decision then this helps him. We’ve got to get used to it.”
Sporting KC Manager Vermes was positive in the press conference following the match and told reporters, “I think always you want to see what your team is going to be like in games — You want to see how different people react in different situations. I think, at times, the guys were very good. I think as the game went on, Johnny Russell, for example, got better and better and better and better.
“He was incredibly dangerous in so many different situations – through the dribble, through the service, trying to cut inside and combine – he was really dangerous but it happened as the game went on because he’s getting more familiar with MLS games, which he really hasn’t played yet,” said Vermes. “It got better as the game went on, but as I said, I think it’s going to take a little time to put all of the pieces together for sure.”
New York City FC head coach Patrick Vieira was pleased yet humble with his team’s victory. “I think it’s a good way to start the season. I think coming here and performing the way we did was really good. I’m really proud of the team and happy with the way we played, especially in the first half.”
“Of course, when you play against Sporting KC away from home, there’s a period of the game where you will suffer,” said Vieira. “In that period, we didn’t concede a goal and that was good for us. Sometimes you get some luck. Today the luck was on our side. Overall, I was really happy with the team’s performance.”
“Scoring two goals against Sporting KC at home is really good for us, but everything wasn’t perfect today,” added Vieira. “We knew that if we managed to find players in between the lines and we put the ball wide, having this kind of cutback would give them problems. Of course, when you plan something and it works, you feel pleased and happy about it.”
“It’s difficult to lose your first match of the season, especially when it’s at home,” said Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler. “We always say we win and lose together as a team. Collectively, we weren’t good enough tonight so it’s disappointing. I wish we would have given our fans something more.”
“Our players have a very unique relationship with our fans,” said Vermes.
The relationship between the soccer fans and the Sporting KC team has more depth than in many other MLS cities and resembles a European atmosphere where the team is really playing for their city and its citizens.
“Our fans have come to know how we play, understand what’s going on in the game. I think it’s great,” said Vermes. “As I said before, it’s a long season, you’ve got 34 games you start off with, we’ve 33 left. Our expectation is that they’re going to be here because we’re going to be here for every game.”
Unlike the often fickle fans on the coast where goals can echo in an empty stadium when fans leave early, opting to miss the traffic to get out of the parking lot rather than the action on the field, Sporting KC fans are the real deal — sincere, dedicated and loyal.
And, as Besler said, “The season isn’t won or lost on the first night.”
- 32’ – NYCFC – Maxi Moralez (Assisted by: David Villa)
- 52’– NYCFC – Jesus Medina (Assisted by: Ben Sweat)
- 23’ – NYCFC – Jesus Medina (YC)
- 34’ – NYCFC – Alex Ring (YC)
- 59’ – NYCFC – Sean Johnson (YC)
- 88’ – NYCFC – Maxime Chanot (RC)