Sporting Kansas City survived a trap game against a struggling Orlando City side on Saturday night, pulling out yet another shut-out win by a final of 1-0. Yohan Croizet was the driving force on the evening as most of the attack came from his right wing. He earned the assist as Felipe Gutiérrez scored the winner, his first goal since returning from injury in July.
Gerso got the action started in the 3rd minute after being sent down the left flank by Gutierrez. He found space in the box with a step-over but his attempt to sneak a shot near post was snuffed out. Although Sporting KC dominated the opening stages of the match, the best chance of the half came in the 5th minute from the visitors. Dom Dwyer was all alone with only Tim Melia to beat, but the reigning MLS Keeper of the Year came up with the big save (his only of the half).
Sporting was finding success attacking from the outside in the first half, peppering balls into the box from all angles. Yohan Croizet looked dangerous on the right wing and found Nemeth a couple times, but the ball wouldn’t go in the net. SKC had racked up 20 crosses, six shots, and 65% possession when the first half came to an end.
The trend continued after the break. But the breakthrough would finally come in the 53rd minute off the boot of Gutierrez. Croizet began the attack from the right flank, once again, and played a ball to the top of the box. Felipe was working with acres of space and took one touch before firing a very precise ball into the back of the net. It may have taken a while, but it actually looked too easy when it finally happened.
Dom Dwyer struggled to get involved all evening. Andreu Fontas & Matt Besler did well to shut down his antics and keep him in check. The English-born striker finished the match with just 17 touches, 42% passing , and poor numbers all around.
Orlando City won back some of the possession as they searched for an equalizer. Melia was forced into another save on Dwyer, but the Lions were not able to do much damage over the final half hour.
Khiry Shelton made his first appearance since knee surgery, entering in the 93rd minute. A substitution motivated by time wasting as much as getting him back on the pitch again.
Sporting pressed to double the lead all the way into stoppage time, but the final whistle brought things to an end at 1-0. The win brings KC to 48 points, one shy of FC Dallas atop the Western Conference.