After dropping out of the CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday night, Sporting KC were looking to bounce back and put their focus 100% on MLS league play on Sunday evening.
Things didn’t go quite as they hoped.
For the first time since the U.S. Open Cup championship game on September 20, 2017, Sporting KC welcomed the New York Red Bulls to Children’s Mercy Park. But this time, Sporting KC could only earn a draw with the visiting team.
The Red Bulls entered the game with just one victory on the season, performing well below expectations of fans and many MLS analysts but still a dangerous side on paper.
Sporting KC started off the game looking the better of the two sides, nearly scoring within the first minute of the game as Gerso sent in a dangerous cross that Luis Robles corralled before a KC player could get on the end of it.
Sporting continued to create chance after chance in the early minutes of the first half, the most dangerous of which came in the 10th minute at the foot of Johnny Russell. After charging down the right side of the field, Johnny cut inside past two Red Bulls defenders to put the ball on his favored left foot. He had an open shot near the top of the 18-yard box, but the Scotsman mis-hit the ball, which dribbled slowly inches to the right of the net.
The Red Bulls chances in the first half were few and far between, but they nearly took the lead in the 17th minute when Cristian Casseres Jr flew past Yohan Croizet—playing left back in place of Seth Sinovic and the injured Rodney Wallace—and sent a dangerous cross into Bradley Wright-Phillips who tapped the ball into the net. Thankfully for Sporting KC, the offside flag came up on BWP to keep the game level at 0-0.
Just eight minutes later Johnny Russell made up for his mis-hit earlier in the first half. Krisztian Nemeth received a throw-in deep in the Red Bulls’ box and laid a beautiful first-time pass off to a charging Johnny Russell, who fired the ball off his left foot into the net to put SKC up 1-0.
Sporting kept the attacking pressure on throughout the first half, with fantastic possession play and passing combinations nearly leading to a goal from Nemeth in the 33rd minute.
The Red Bulls didn’t take long to strike after the start of the second half. In the 52nd minute Daniel Royer was played into a wide open position that left him one-on-one with Tim Melia, where he touched the ball around the SKC keeper and put the ball into the net. Referee Robert Sibiga did put his hand to his hear to listen to VAR assistance, but replays showed that Yohan Croizet wasn’t in line with the rest of the SKC back line and kept Royer onside.
Sporting KC nearly regained the lead ten minutes later when Johnny played a wonderful back-and-forth with Nemeth to give Johnny an open shot in the box, but he pushed the ball just to the left of the post for a goal kick.
Things seemed to slow down for both sides as they began to tire toward the end of the match, but the Red Bulls broke through once again in the 75th minute to take the lead. Kaku charged down the left side of the field and sent a curling cross into the box, where 23-year-old Brian White sent the ball past Melia with a diving header.
After a tepid second half from Sporting KC in the attacking half, Gianluca Busio scored a goal for his third straight game to pull SKC level in the 88th minute. Busio found himself open just feet in front of goal where he fired a rebound off Graham Zusi’s shot straight into the net to level the game at 2-2.
Just as the game was winding down, Red Bulls No. 10 Kaku fired a shot straight into the stands out of frustration, hitting a Sporting KC fan. SKC players immediately took exception to Kaku’s antics and ran to defend the fan, sparking a large brawl. Kaku was shown a red card by Sibiga when the dust finally settled, but it was too little, too late for Sporting KC as the game ended just minutes later.
Sporting KC currently sit in seventh place in the West with nine points. They next travel to San Jose to take on the Earthquakes on Saturday, April 20.