Less than a week after a devastating home loss to FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City looked to rebound on the road in the Bronx against fifth place Eastern Conference side New York City FC.
Sporting KC entered the match well below the playoff line, sitting in 10th place in the West on just 25 points. With time running out to turn things around in 2019, a road result was about as much of a necessity as a result had ever been before for SKC.
The game started off relatively even, with Sporting KC maybe even looking like the more attacking side throughout much of the first ten minutes.
That didn’t last long.
New York City momentarily looked like they struck first in the 12th minute when forward Alexandru Mitrita put the ball into the back of the net after a Heber shot, but a late offside call from the assistant referee signaled that Heber was offside, negating the early goal.
Sporting KC nearly got on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute as Gerso pulled down a long pass from Botond Barath and got a left-footed shot on frame. Sean Johnson parried the ball away, but it fell dangerously into the middle of the box. There were no NYCFC defenders around to clear it at first, leaving the ball wide open for SKC to punch into the net. Unfortunately, there were no late runners in the box to take the shot, instead leaving the ball harmlessly for NYCFC.
Tim Melia made a huge goal saving stop in the 34th minute as Maxi Moralez put a fantastic header on frame. Melia jumped and was able to get a single hand on the ball, pushing it just over the bar and out for an NYCFC corner.
.@TimMelia28 with the paw!#NYCvSKC 0-0 // #ForGloryForCity pic.twitter.com/V5SWrn9n1G— Sporting KC (@SportingKC) July 27, 2019
NYCFC did draw first blood just seven minutes later, though. It all started with a gorgeous dummy from Alexander Ring that left a ball for Mitrita at the top of the box. Ring ran toward goal for the give-and-go, and then sent a beautiful pass across the face of goal to Anton Tinnerholm, who easily tapped the ball in for the game’s first goal.
It's Anton Tinnerholm ... in the back of the net! What a celebration. #NYCvSKC pic.twitter.com/f5I3WM224z— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 27, 2019
Sporting KC nearly equalized just minutes later off a corner kick as Krisztian Nemeth appeared to head a ball on target, but Benny Feilhaber found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and blocked the ball from going into the net while simultaneously being called offside.
NYCFC doubled their lead in the 54th minute as Heber was left completely unmarked 15 yards outside of the box, drove right at Tim Melia, and easily chipped him for NYC’s second goal. SKC players were upset with referee David Gantar for what they felt was a blown corner kick call just seconds earlier on the other end of the field, but the complaints were too little, too late.
That's 9️⃣ goals on the season for @NYCFC's No. 9️⃣! #NYCvSKC pic.twitter.com/G5Ou5iSMit— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 27, 2019
Things went from bad-to-worse in the 62nd minute as Roger Espinoza was shown a red card for his challenge on Maxime Chanot. (He was initially given a second yellow, resulting in a red, but VAR had to get involved to make sure that Roger got a straight red card just in case there was any confusion.)
Sporting KC were able to pull a goal back in the 73rd minute off the rare corner kick goal. Johnny Russell sent the corner kick into the box, and Benny Feilhaber was able to head the ball across goal where a flying Ilie Sanchez made contact to head the ball into the net.
Don't count 'em out! @SportingKC make it 2-1, thanks to Ilie. #NYCvSKC pic.twitter.com/2BWPAWaUOz— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 27, 2019
Any chance at a comeback was eliminated in the 77th minute when Alexander Ring received a pass wide open at the top of the box, set the ball up for his favored left foot and fired a strike from distance past Tim Melia, leading to the game’s final 3-1 scoreline.
Right. On. In. @NYCFC are back in the driver's seat! #NYCvSKC pic.twitter.com/PK0IdMyFpI— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 27, 2019
Sporting KC next travels across the country to the Pacific Northwest to take on the 3rd place Seattle Sounders FC. With just 12 games remaining on the season, earning the full three points in Seattle is a must. It won’t be easy given the Sounders’ 8-1-2 (W-L-D) record at CenturyLink Field this season.
Even with an unlikely road victory, it would be an uphill climb for Sporting KC to get back into the top seven in the West and earn a playoff spot.