Sporting KC got their CONCACAF Champions League journey off to a good start as they defeated Real Esteli 2-0 in Nicaragua to open up group play.
The match started off in a physical sense after Mechack Jerome was shown a yellow card for a bad tackle right outside the box on Juan Barrera. Sporting would get the ball on the offsides call, but Jerome would still enter the books barely into the match.
Ike Opara would be credited with Sporting's first goal in the 31st minute but it was really a complete team effort. Benny Feilhaber sent in a curling free kick off a set piece into the box after a foul. Ike Opara got into the fray and headed it up into the air and towards the goal. Aurelien Collin would follow the ball and fake out the Real Esteli keeper to allow Opara's ball to slip over the hands of Justo Lorente and into the goal for the game's first score.
It was Opara's third goal in all competitions this year and Feilhaber's fourth assist. Sporting would carry the 1-0 advantage into the locker rooms when the half came to a close twelve minutes later. Soony Saad would be booked just before the whistle for a tackle on Allan Kardek, bringing the total number of yellows up to two in the first half.
Sporting would work with that one-goal lead until the 76th minute, when Dom Dwyer gave them some insurance. After receiving a ball from Collin, Dwyer weaved his way in-and-out of defenders before making a final move to juke the final defender and fire a shot far post that made it into the side netting for the score. It was Dwyer's second goal in all Sporting KC competitions and his second this week. It was also a truly remarkable goal in terms of skill and accuracy and it gave Sporting its much needed insurance as they took a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Sporting would be able to keep their strong defense up for the rest of the match and they walked out of Nicaragua with a 2-0 win and three points to start the competition. Next up for Real Esteli is their final home match of the group stage against Olimpia on August 21st. Olimpia will then host Sporting KC on August 27th in Honduras. Both of the teams will visit Kansas City in September and October.
Sporting will be back in action Saturday night to take on the New England Revolution at Sporting Park.