Sporting Kansas City stole all three points in New Jersey tonight against the New York Red Bulls by a final score of 2-0 on the back of keeper Tim Melia. SKC will feel fortunate to come out of it with that scoreline as NYRB bossed most of the match.
The Kansas City netminder had a career game tonight preserving a shut out among 22 shots from the opposition. He provided several highlight reel saves but the shining moment came in the 63' minute.
Ike Opara, who had come on for injured Kevin Ellis, was called for a very tough handball in the box and the referee immediately signaled for a penalty kick. Bradley Wright-Phillips stepped up to take the kick and after being denied by Melia countless times already, he was in his head. BWP hit the ball well, but Timmy guessed the right way and got his paws up just in time to save the day.
The New York Red Bulls opened the match with a high line and high intensity. The chances would follow and they looked fit to get on the board first.
But in the 17' minute Graham Zusi sent a ball up the field that Dom Dwyer corralled with two defenders hanging on him. As always, he stayed strong and help up play long enough for Zusi to make a run off his hip. He played a perfect pass for Zusi on the right wing. The NYRB defense was basically non existent at this point and Zusi had both Feilhaber and Hallisey all alone in front of the goal waiting. The ball went to Feilhaber who calmly slid it passed Robles into the bottom corner for the lead. It was a fantastic team goal from start to finish that spanned almost the entire field.
The assist was Zusi's 46 in MLS regular season play, moving him passed Chris Klein to 2nd place all time for Sporting KC.
NYRB dominated the first half in almost every statistic. While possession was basically even, the Red Bulls had more shots, shots on goal, corner kicks, tackles, and aerial duels won.
Bradley Wright-Phillips alone had 8 shots just in the first half. Tim Melia, Nuno Coelho, and the frame of the goal came up with countless blocks and saves to preserve the one goal lead at the half.
The 2nd half was more of the same story. The Red Bulls again were eager to get forward after being down a goal. They had even more possession after the break and continued to threaten Melia's goal. But again, Sporting KC would get a goal very much against the run of play.
Saad Abdul-Salaam, in for the injured Chance Myers, had a throw from a dangerous spot in Red Bull territory in the 60' minute. Dom Dwyer was waiting at the near post for the ball where he let it bounce over him, blocked out the defender on a great turn, and fired it into the net from point blank range. It was a very, very Dom Dwyer goal. An individual effort where he used his strength and peskiness to make something happen.
But the home side show no signs of backing down. Their chances on goal kept coming and it was just a few minutes later they earned the PK that Tim Melia dealt with. That was the biggest of six saves he was forced into on the evening, but that number felt clsoer to 20 than to six.
It might not have the prettiest thing ever and they sacrificed two players with injuries to get it, but Sporting KC stuck it out for the rest of the match and got the shutout win. NYRB finished with almost 65% possession however the heroics of Tim Melia trumped all for the SKC victory.
Sporting moved to 4-1-0 with 12 points on the season. It is a quick turnaround as they face the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night at Children's Mercy Park.