Sporting Kansas City traveled to Austin with their destiny in their own hands but left needing help to finish on top of the Western Conference.
The game did not start well for the visitors when they easily gave away the ball and were quickly punished. Austin’s Jared Stroud headed a cross back across the goal where Sebastian Driussi headed it in from point-blank range just 30 seconds into the match.
“It was a bad start, a poor start. You can’t give up the ball like we did off the kickoff and then receive a goal,” manager Peter Vermes told media post game. “They come right down the middle of the field and they wind up scoring. You bring them into the game. The crowd gets into it. They’re into it. And then we give up a silly set piece goal and then we’re chasing the game. We’re chasing the game from the opening minute of the game.”
Austin almost doubled the lead when Stroud banged a shot of the post in the 11th minute, but the home team did take a 2-0 lead in the 22nd. Zan Kolmanic served a ball to the far post where Julio Cascante headed the ball down and bouncing up inside the post.
SKC had some chances to pull one back before half, Daniel Salloi hit the side netting and Johnny Russell bounced one shot just over the crossbar and another as saved by Brad Stuver, but were unable to find the back of the net before half.
When the teams came out of the locker room, Sporting KC was initially on the front foot chasing a goal. Austin countered and Diego Fagundez slid the ball across the box and found a very open Stroud who added his own goal to make it 3-0.
In the 65th minute, Luis Martins picked out the Kansas City captain on the far side of the box where Russell powered in a header to cut the deficit. It was Russell’s tenth straight game with a goal or an assist.
SKC could not find another goal and the game ended 3-1.
Russell was not happy with the performance. “Just look at the goals. They’re not goals that we usually concede. For whatever reason, we’ve done it the last two games in two really important games for us. You can’t give away the goal the way we did in the first minute of the game, especially in a game that we were really fired up for and especially after the last result. The warmup was one of the best that we’ve had and then we come out and let them score in a minute. There’s not really any excuse for that.”
Sporting KC return home to face Real Salt Lake in the final game before playoffs with a lot to play for. “There should be no lack of motivation for that game,” Graham Zusi stated. “We’re in front of our fans with it all to play for. Definitely a better start, looking for that. Defending our home, we’ve been good about doing that all season.”
Sporting Kansas City:
Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins; Ilie Sanchez, Gadi Kinda (Cam Duke 68’), Remi Walter; Johnny Russell (C) (Grayson Barber 78’), Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used:
John Pulskamp, Roberto Puncec, Kaveh Rad, Jake Davis, Roger Espinoza, Jose Mauri, Wilson Harris
Brad Stuver; Julio Cascante, Zan Kolmanic, Nick Lima, Tomas Pochettino; Alex Ring (C), Daniel Pereira, Sebastian Driussi (Owen Wolff 90+3’); Diego Fagundez (Freddy Kleemann 90+2’), Jared Stroud (Cecilio Dominguez 76’), Moussa Djitte (Orrin McKinze Gaines II 61’)
Subs Not Used:
Aedan Stanley, Sebastian Berhalter, Jon Gallagher, Kekuta Manneh, Andrew Tarbell
ATX — Sebastian Driussi 5 (Jared Stroud 4) 1’
ATX — Juio Cascante 2 (Zan Kolmancic 4) 22’
ATX — Jared Stroud 1 (Diego Fagundez 4) 60’
SKC — Johnny Russell 15 (Luis Martins 4, Gadi Kinda 8) 65’
SKC — Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 21’
ATX — Jon Gallagher (yellow card, unsporting behavior) 50’
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referee: Chantal Boudreau
Assistant Referee: Diego Blas
Fourth Official: Allen Chapman
VAR: Daniel Radford
AVAR: Jonathan Johnson