When Sporting KC went into their match with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday evening, they needed a win to give themselves a chance at the playoffs.
What they got instead was a microcosm of their 2019 season, with early hope dashed, then pummeled out of existence as they fell 7-2 in Carson.
It was the second straight loss for Sporting KC.
Right off the bat, Sporting KC almost took an early lead. Felipe Gutierrez took a chance from outside the box on his left foot, but what made it interesting was the deflection it took. Originally headed for the right corner of the goal, the ball’s trajectory instead took it to the other side and it clanged off the post.
The next big chance in the game came in the 15th minute, this time for the home side. Sebastian Lletget sent in a cross to the middle of the box where Zlatan Ibrahimovic got a head on it, but it went right to Tim Melia’s hands. The score remained 0-0.
Cristian Pavón tested Melia again just a few minutes later. With the ball on the left side of the box, he made a cut inside and attempted to curl it into the right goal, requiring a diving stop from Melia to keep the match scoreless. At this point, the Galaxy were firmly in control.
That tone would not last too long as Sporting KC took the lead in the 23rd minute. After Gutierrez missed a chance at a header toward goal, the rebound landed at the foot of Gerso. He sent the ball back into Gutierrez in the middle of the box, where, after a cut to defeat the defender, he put it home for the match’s first goal. It was his eighth goal of the year.
From that point, Sporting KC continued to control the tempo of the match. Gerso had a chance to add a goal of his own just a minute later when he received a ball behind the Galaxy back line, but he was too close to the Galaxy keeper and his shot was met with an immediate block from David Bingham. A few minutes later, Johnny Russell’s free kick 25 yards out skimmed just over the bar.
However, the Galaxy would level the match in the 32nd minute. After a handball was called on Matt Besler in the box, the Galaxy were awarded a penalty. Melia originally saved Ibrahimovic’s attempt at the penalty, but the rebound bounced perfectly back to Ibrahimovic and he tucked it away for the equalizer for his 24th goal of the year.
The teams took this scoreline into the half.
Less than three minutes into the second half, the Galaxy took advantage. Graham Smith overcommitted himself trying to clear a cross from the top of the box and was not able to make contact as the ball sailed over his head. This left the middle of the box open for Rolf Feltscher to send the ball in to Joe Corona, who put it home for his first goal of the season.
It went from bad to worse.
Feltscher again was on the assist, crossing the ball to Ibrahimovic in the middle of the box. Zlatan was able to hold off the Sporting defenders and put it past Melia for his second goal of the match. With a 3-1 lead and the game firmly in hand, the Galaxy weren’t done quite yet.
In fact, they had another four in them.
First it was Uriel Antuna claiming his first goal of the match in the 69th minute.
Then, in the 77th minute, Lletget finally got a goal of his own, assisted by Corona.
Two minutes later and Lletget had a brace, this time assisted by Antuna.
To cap it off, Ibrahimovic got his desired hat trick. He sent a low rocket from twenty yards out that skipped to the far post and in for his team-record 26th goal of the year. It was now 7-1.
Sporting KC did end up pulling one back after a well-struck ball from Gutierrez from just outside the box hit the crossbar and went in. In a better context it would have been a cooler moment, but it was simply a blip on a despondent evening.
The 7-2 line would end up being the final as Sporting KC essentially ended any hopes of a playoff spot they had. Now, with four matches to go, Peter Vermes has some decisions to make as to whom should get the playing time.