It was a late goal, from the best goal-scorer as of late, and assisted by the sub that came on late as Sporting Kansas City downed D.C. United 1-0.
Claudio Bieler notched his fourth goal of the year when he put the ball in the net in the 89th minute, giving Sporting the 1-0 advantage. This opportunity would not have happened, however, if second-half sub Soony Saad had not humiliated a couple of United defenders and passed the ball into the box to assist on the game-winner.
"When I came on, I felt my job was to make a difference," Saad said.
The game was an extremely physical game, with both teams earning multiple yellow cards. Oriol Rosell picked one up in the 17th minute and Chance Myers earned a caution in the 75th for Sporting KC. DC United had Rafael, Dejan Jakovic and Bill Hamid booked in the 31st, 48th and 75th minutes respectively. Hamid's card, which was for time wasting, was the only card earned that wasn't for a foul.
United had a chance to score early when Lionard Pajoy got open in the box in the sixth minute and put a shot, only to be rejected by the foot of Jimmy Nielsen and the flag of the sideline referee calling him offside. Even though the shot didn't count, it put Sporting on notice that DC United would not "park the bus" as many other teams tend to do when playing in Sporting Park.
Sporting KC out-possessed DC United by nearly 20%, but flustered while trying to finish. They attempted 13 shots, but only two were on goal: Bieler's game-winner, and a shot by CJ Sapong in the 37th minute that was gathered up easily by Bill Hamid. Several shots went wide, including a Seth Sinovic shot in the 47th minute that went far right, as Sinovic was not able to overcome the tough angle.
There were some close shots, however. A Claudio Bieler header went just a breadth wide of the right post in the 18th minute, and a CJ Sapong header missed left as the first half was drawing to a close.
It took until the 89th minute for the score. Soony Saad, who came on in the 83rd minute, made some gorgeous moves on the left side of the box, including a cheeky nutmeg, and was able to find Claudio Bieler near the six yard box, who put it away to put Sporting up 1-0. It was Bieler's fourth of the season, and Saad's first assist of the year.
Sporting hunkered down for the ensuing five minutes of extra time, ensuring their victory in the Eastern Conference clash. This was the second win in a row for Sporting as they improved their record to 3-1-2 and gathered three more points, which gave them firm position in second in the Eastern Conference. DC United fell to 1-3-1, which kept them in eighth.
Sporting KC also extended their scoreless streak to a league-leading 429 minutes, good for second longest in club history. Another streak that was extended was Jimmy Nielsen's streak of clean sheets, which reached four games.
Peter Vermes, who was recently announced as a National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, said "It's only good when we don't give up goals," but also said he could care less about the streak.
"If you don't give up goals not only does it set yourself up for results, but you set yourself up as time goes on to be able to win in the important games," he said.
Sporting KC has next weekend off before heading to New Jersey to take on New York Red Bulls next Wednesday. They don't play at Sporting Park again until the April 27th match against Portland.