"You could see it in their eyes that they wanted no part of this game," Sporting Kansas City forward CJ Sapong said as he reflected on Sporting KC's best match of the season so far.
The result made this quote extremely appropriate as Sporting was able to make a quick impact and hold strong, defeating previously undefeated Montreal 2-0.
Sporting started the scoring early as Claudio Bieler notched his third goal of the season with a clinical finish from just outside the 18-yard box in the fifth minute. Benny Feilhaber picked up the assist as Sporting raced to the early lead. It was the first time since the game against Toronto that Sporting had scored a goal, ending a two-game goal drought.
Sporting KC were close to putting another one on the board in the ninth minute as a Graham Zusi free kick was headed into the net by Aurelien Collin, but was waived offside, nullifying the score.
A scary moment for Sporting came in the 29th minute when CJ Sapong had to be carried off of the field by stretcher. Sapong took a hard hit to the back from an inadvertent elbow by Montreal midfielder Jeb Brovsky, but was able to come back in the 32nd minute without any apparent injury.
Sapong, who finished the match, said he wasn't perfectly ok, but would wait until tomorrow to see how he feels.
Things got physical early in the second half. Sporting picked up two cautions very close to each other as Collin earned a yellow card in the 50th minute, and then Seth Sinovic earned a yellow card himself in the 53rd minute after delaying a restart. Montreal then earned one of their own in the 55th minute for a tactical foul committed by Felipe Martins.
In the 80th minute, Graham Zusi was finally able to put the game away after a very contested battle for the ball lead to a well-earned finish for the national teamer. It was Zusi's second goal of the season, and Benny Feilhaber picked up his second assist of the match.
Montreal coach Marco Schällibaum was then ejected from the match immediately following Zusi's goal for reportedly throwing a water bottle at the fourth official in the 81st minute.
Montreal had some late chances, but none were even close to threatening goal and the game ended with a 2-0 win for Sporting KC.
With the win, Sporting improved to 2-1-2 on the season and went up to eight points, good for third in the Eastern Conference.
Head coach Peter Vermes was very happy with his team's performance, calling it "the best game they've played all year."
"From the opening whistle to the final whistle we were dominate," Vermes said.
Jimmy Nielsen, who extended his shutout streak to three games, was also pleased with the game, calling it "a very sexy performance." Nielsen, however, was not too focused on the shutout streak.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "The only thing that matters is if we win."
Benny Feilhaber, who racked up two assists, says that he is adjusting little by little to the style of play that Sporting uses, but that the transition is happening.
"The environment, the stadium, the fans are all more than I imagined," he said. "It's a great transition."
Sporting plays once again at home Friday night against D.C United in another Eastern Conference clash. Montreal, who dropped to 4-0-1 with the loss, will take on Columbus Crew in a home match on April 13th following a bye week.