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Sporting KC’s struggles continue after loss to first place LAFC

SKC looked good to start the game, but things fell apart near the 30th minute.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Sporting Kansas City Peter G. Aiken

When Sporting Kansas City first met Los Angeles Football Club at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles back in March, many thought it could be a preview of the Western Conference finals.

While that game didn’t disappoint in terms of excitement with LAFC’s stoppage time winner, the two teams have marched down quite different paths since then.

LAFC entered Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday night far and away the best team in MLS, sitting atop the West at a staggering 37 points through 17 games. Sporting KC, on the other hand, have had seemingly everything go wrong since then. A combination of injuries, mental mistakes, a crowded schedule, and poor form have left SKC in last place in the West with just 19 points through 17 games.

Unfortunately for Sporting KC, the second meeting of the year between these two teams ended up being about as one-sided as the standings are.

The game began with both sides running an attacking-minded 4-3-3 formation, and it quickly turned into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair from the first kick.

Sporting KC nearly drew first blood in the fourth minute, when Ilie Sanchez picked out Daniel Salloi behind LAFC’s back line in the box, but all the Hungarian could do was push the ball over the crossbar for a goal kick.

Just five minutes later, it was LAFC who nearly found the net when Carlos Vela sent a gorgeous free kick into the box. Midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye headed the ball into the ground and on frame, but Tim Melia got a hand on it and Sporting KC was able to clear the ball to safety.

The back-and-forth affair remained scoreless until the 29th minute, when Benny Feilhaber fouled Carlos Vela at the top of the box to set up a dangerous free kick for the visitors. Vela lined up as if to take the shot, but striker Christian Ramirez stepped up and kicked the ball straight underneath the wall of defenders, catching Melia by surprise and putting LAFC up 1-0.

Sporting KC nearly tied it up in the 36th minute when Hasler, Salloi, and Nemeth linked up for a beautiful combination play, but Nemeth could only get the shot off as he fell to the ground and put the ball wide left of the net.

LAFC just about doubled the lead in the 39th minute as Diego Rossi found a wide open Christian Ramirez on the six-yard-line, but somehow Ramirez put the ball over the net to keep the score 1-0.

SKC immediately responded in the attack, with Nemeth getting a clear shot on goal just inside the penalty spot, but he shot the ball right at goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega who cleared it away. Had Nemeth placed the ball two feet to the right or left, the game likely would’ve been level at 1-1.

After the half, Sporting KC came out strong offensively again. Gerso had a chance early in the second half in the 48th minute, but he wasn’t able to put a difficult shot on frame and pushed it just left of the net.

Any hope of a comeback was pretty much erased in the 49th minute when Diego Rossi fired a beautiful shot from distance to score a golazo, putting LAFC up 2-0.

Just fifteen minutes later, LAFC continued to show why they’re the best team in the league. Carlos Vela had a one-on-one in the box with Matt Besler, and after a nifty step-over, he sent a curler past Besler, past Melia, and into the left side of the net for his 17th goal of the season.

Kansas City looked like they may get one yet in the 82nd minute after Steven Beitashour was called for a handball in the box, but Daniel Salloi’s soft penalty kick attempt was blocked by Sisniega, and Busio’s follow up shot was cleared by LAFC.

The sequence just about summed up Sporting KC’s entire night.

Yohan Croizet did finally put the ball in the back of the net in the 84th minute for Sporting KC after a lovely pass from Ilie over the top, but it was too little, too late for SKC.

Just to add insult to injury, Rodolfo Zelaya put a fourth goal away for LAFC in the 89th minute after Carlos Vela broke free and sent a ball across the face of the goal to the forward.

Two minutes later, Mohamed El-Munir scored a fifth for LAFC after crossing up Matt Besler in the box.

Stuck on just 19 points through 18 games, Sporting KC now turn their eyes toward the Chicago Fire, who come to Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night after beating Atlanta United 5-1 on Wednesday night.

If SKC have any hope of turning this season around, Saturday night’s affair with the Fire is a must-win.