Sporting Kansas City returned to action looking to bounce back after their embarrassing loss to a lower division side in the US Open Cup semifinals on Wednesday.
Despite the 120 minutes that many players put in on Wednesday, Sporting KC still started a few guys from that game. There were five changes with the addition of Felipe Hernandez, Cam Duke, Kayden Pierre, Marinos Tzionis and Willy Agada into the starting lineup.
Logan Ndenbe appeared set to start but was a late scratch due to a hamstring injury. So despite having to be carried off the field on Wednesday, Ben Sweat got another start.
The game got off to a bit of a slow start but then Austin came on the attack. Over the course of just a few minutes Austin scored three times... and had all three called back for offside.
In the middle of that spurt of non-goals, Sporting had a few half-chances of their own. Agada had some delightful holdup play and showed a deft touch. On one occasion he flicked a ball to Hernandez who went charging down the field. Felipe’s pass was a little wide for Tzionis but he got on the end of it and forced Stuver into a save before the ball was cleared for a throw.
In the 29th minute Sporting came close to striking the back of the net. A long throw to Russell in the corner led to a square ball across the box which Tzionis made a crashing run on and appeared to get a toe on to force a save and a corner.
That corner led to a free header in the box for Agada who drove it off Gabrielsen who was standing just off the goal line.
After that, it was all Sporting KC. They forced Austin into three yellow cards over just a few minutes. They generated several chances and had the Texas side under consistent pressure.
But then in a span of four minutes, it all fell apart. Cam Duke picked up what appeared to be two legit yellows in the 39th and 43rd minutes. Both times, stopping counters.
Things went from bad to worse when an Alex Ring shot from outside of the box went from routine save to a John Pulskamp nightmare. The ball spilled between Pulskamp’s legs and into the net. Austin would lead 1-0 at the half.
After the half Sporting KC made two changes: Erik Thommy and Daniel Salloi came on for Johnny Russell and Marinos Tzionis. Austin also made a pair of subs bringing on Felipe Martins and Romana for Pereira and Cascante, who were both on yellows. Maxi Urruti is the only guy on a yellow who stayed on the field for Austin to start the half.
The second half got off to a... deliberate pace. It wasn’t obvious SKC was down a man as they saw nearly as much of the ball as Austin. In the 58th minute Ring, who was dealing with an injury, was subbed off for Owen Wolff. Immediately after that Kansas City got on the attack and there were shouts for a handball in the box on Austin which was reviewed.
After a short delay, the handball was given.
Unfortunately, with Russell subbed off, Salloi would take it and Brad Stuver stopped the penalty. Sporting’s best chance got away from them.
Shortly after Austin went down and scored again. It was called a goal on the field and the AR kept their flag down, but after a lengthy review, the goal was taken away and Sporting had life.
On replay, the Austin goal scorer isn't offside, but Urruti is a mile offside and likely interfering with the play.— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 31, 2022
It's going to VAR... and they take it away. #SportingKC #SKCvATX pic.twitter.com/gyh3VoTqQv
After the goal was taken away, Sporting KC were all over Austin. They kept them under pressure, despite playing down a man. They did make a couple more subs bringing on Roger Espinoza and Graham Zusi for Hernandez and Pierre. Felipe was on a yellow, and it was for only the final 13 minutes, but the game had a rhythm and usually SKC don’t sub in that situation. KC kept the pressure on but just couldn’t generate a quality chance.
In the 90th minute, on a counter attack with Agada down cramping behind the play Austin finally got their second. A nice splitting pass was played through to Driussi who appeared to be held onside by Zusi and he curled it into the bottom corner.
After that, Agada was subbed off for Uri Rosell since he had gone down twice with cramps. (Update: The Blue Testament confirmed after the game it’s not an injury, just cramps for Agada. PV said the plan wasn’t to play him the whole game but the red card changed everything.)
Sporting KC will be back at home next weekend on August 6th to host the LA Galaxy at 7:30 PM CST.