Say this much for Sporting Kansas City; they sure don't make things easy for themselves.
Despite being the aggressors from the first whistle, Sporting KC fell behind 1-0 just before halftime thanks to a Ryan Johnson goal, but both Paulo Nagamura, and Oriol Rosell were able to score for Kansas City in the second half to give the home side a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC Saturday night at Livestrong Sporting Park.
It was another dominating performance from Sporting KC, as once again,the home team were able to control much of the match. But despite it appearing that Kansas City would find the back of the net early, it was Toronto FC who scored first.
In the 44th miniute, Toronto FC defender Richard Eckersley was able to find midfielder Ryan Johnson with a looping pass over the top of Sporting KC's defense. Johnson, who was able to beat Kansas City's offside trap, calmly slotted the ball past Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen into the right corner of goal.
And just like that, Sporting Kansas City found themselves in a true dog fight in a game that many thought would be a cakewalk.
As the second half progressed, frustration started to mount for Sporting KC, as the home side just couldn't seem to completely unlock Toronto's defense. It didn't help that Toronto FC appeared more than happy to bunker down, and hope to catch Sporting KC with a counter attack, as Toronto appeared to be utilizing a "bend but don't break" defensive philosophy.
On numerous occasions throughout the course of the match, Sporting Kansas City would make a number of nice combination passes, only to fail to finish, or find that final pass that could break down Toronto's back line. There were too many instances to count where Chance Myers, Paulo Nagamura, or Roger Espinoza would make dangerous crosses into Toronto FC's box, but there would be no Sporting KC player racing into the box to get on the other end.
It appeared that Toronto's willingness to bunker down was going to pay off with a surprise three points, but in the 60th minute Sporting Kansas City finally found their break through. Graham Zusi fired a free kick towards Toronto's back post where the ball was temporarily cleared out by Toronto defenders. However, the ball fell right to Nagamura, who's one-time shot ricocheted off of the turf, and bounced over Freddy Hall and into Toronto's goal.
After leveling the score at one apiece, Sporting Kansas City would start a full-on offensive blitzkrieg to try and find the goal to put the home team ahead, and earn three vital points.
That goal would happen in the dying minutes of the match. A nice series of possession from Sporting Kansas City would end in the 87th minute with Chance Myers finding Oriol Rosell inside Toronto's box. Rosell fired a left footed shot that somehow beat Hall (replays show that clearly Freddy should have done much better on that play), and put Kansas City ahead for good at 2-1.
It was quite a clutch goal from the former Barcelona B man, one that allowed Sporting Kansas City to widen their slight lead over the New York Red Bulls atop the Eastern Conference. Sporting KC, with 50 total points, are now four points clear of New York.
Sporting Kansas City won't play another match until September 14, when the Houston Dynamo return to Livestrong Sporting Park in another vital game to decide who will win the Eastern Conference.