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Gareth Bale opens MLS account as LAFC beats Sporting Kansas City 2-0

It’s Sporting Kansas City’s fourth straight loss at home, all but ending any remaining hopes of making the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Sporting Kansas City William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

If Gareth Bale thought it was hot in Nashville last week, he hadn’t seen anything yet.

On a warm night that felt like 100 degrees at kickoff, Sporting Kansas City returned home from a three-game road trip to take on the top team in MLS.

New signing Erik Thommy immediately slotted into the starting lineup for SKC after just a few days of training, while Tim Melia and Graham Zusi made their returns from brief stings out due to injury.

Gareth Bale began the game on the bench for LAFC, but he would make his presence felt later.

Kansas City’s new German midfielder came out strong in the first 10 minutes of the game, giving Sporting a direct attacking presence in the middle of the field that they’ve missed all season without a true No. 10 available due to Gadi Kinda’s injury.

His first real chance came in the 15th minute after Felipe Hernandez drove into the box and laid a pass off for Thommy near the spot. The 27-year-old took a shot off the first touch, but it went just wide right of the net.

Sporting continued to look the more dominant side over the next 15 minutes, with LAFC’s only chances coming off corners and one loose ball.

LAFC had one last chance just before halftime when Jose Cifuentes had a wide open shot from the penalty spot, but Logan Ndenbe kept the game level at 0-0 with a last minute clearance off the line.

Sporting swapped Zusi for Kayden Pierre at the half, and just five minutes into the half John Pulskamp had to come in for Tim Melia, who injured his right hamstring coming out of the net for an attempted save.

In the 57th minute, LAFC finally broke through. After looking like the side on their heels for much of the game, Carlos Vela found Cristian Arango on the right side of SKC’s box, who struck the ball past Pulskamp into the top right corner of the net with power to make it 1-0 LAFC.

Gareth Bale checked in for LAFC in the 65th minute to a number of cheers and boos from the Children’s Mercy Park crowd; his presence making things that much harder for SKC to defend.

It took him only 18 minutes to make an impact. He opened his MLS account with a nice left footed goal into the bottom right corner of Sporting’s net to give LAFC a 2-0 lead in the 83rd minute.

Sporting KC never really recaptured the offensive prowess they had in the first half, especially after Erik Thommy was subbed off in the 61st minute. The most notable thing that happened to Sporting the rest of the game was William Agada’s debut when he subbed on in the 84th minute.

After this 2-0 loss, Sporting KC have now lost four straight games at home.

With the 2022 MLS Playoffs all but officially out of reach for Sporting, they now turn their attention to the US Open Cup. SKC travels to Sacramento to take on Sacramento Republic FC in the US Open Cup semifinals on Wednesday, July 27, at 9:30 p.m.