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Three goals and a shutout for Sporting Kansas City over DC United

The strong team win brought plenty of bright lights.

Thad Bell

Three goals. Three points. And plenty to smile about.

Sporting Kansas City jumped on top of visiting DC United on Tuesday night at Children’s Mercy Park and never looked back. Goals by Khiry Shelton, Robert Voloder, and Daniel Salloi in front of a well-earned shutout rounded out a strong 3-0 victory.

On a Tuesday night, after a Saturday night match, in front of a Saturday night match at the weekend, and his club hanging on to a sliver of hope for making the playoffs, Manager Peter Vermes put out this Starting 11:

Why this match mattered

  1. For players fighting for contracts for next season, with KC or DC... or some other side. Vermes’ eleven had an opportunity to impress, from goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh gaining his first MLS start to youth who have had lesser minutes like backs Robert Voloder and Kayden Pierre, midfielder Cam Duke, and winger Marinos Tzionis.
  2. For managers to keep their franchise’s buy-in... Vermes needs to keep up player confidence and Rooney to continue to gain the trust of his players and fans.
  3. For the fans... although the seats at CMP were only slightly more than half-full, fans need to have hope for next season and the team needs to make the fans realize they are missing something if they don’t head to the stadium.
  4. To remain alive in the playoff hunt with all three points. However, odds are Kansas City will be eliminated via results in other matches Wednesday night.

Decisive actions

Low key

Tzionis squared... In the 18th minute after Daniel Salloi spun his defender deep right in DC’s box, he turned the corner and played near post for a coming Tzionis. The Cypriot tangled with his defender, thus he came in sliding and put his attempt over the bar from close range.

After gaining a foul with a driving dribble through the middle of United’s midfield in the 24th minute, Tzionis hit a low, charged drive just wide of David Ochoa’s left post on the ensuing free kick. The 21-year-old attacker continues to prove he is a worthy project with his skill, forward actions, and danger on set pieces.

McIntosh alert... A glancing header called goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh into action in the 58th minute. The debutant was ready for the challenge and securely gobbled up the shot. McIntosh then skied in the 67th minute to deny a United attacker a chance to head an attempt on goal. Seven minutes on, McIntosh confronted a DC attacker 12 yards out to his right and got a piece of his shot for the save.

Subs: To begin the 2nd half, Erik Thommy came in for Espinoza and Felipe Hernandez for Duke. In the 62nd minute, Willy Agada replaced Shelton and Johnny Russell replaced Tzionis.

The Big ones

Khiry cometh... striker Khiry Shelton started his first MLS match since July 23rd and delivered the lead for Sporting in the 34th minute. Roger Espinoza switched the ball wide right to Tzionis, who settled, lifted his head, and played across the box. Shelton beat his man (as the cross brushed the back of a DC defender) and then nudged the ball on its way inside the far post.

Voloder vicious... Off a Sporting corner in the 70th, Voloder took the ball down smartly with his left foot then hit a blistering, no rotation strike past Ochoa who could only wave at as it passed him into the net. A nice first MLS marker.

Showtime...

Tactical focus

Although Sporting seemed to focus on attacking down the left wing, Kansas City’s halftime heat map showed nearly the entire width of the field just over the halfway line nearly to United’s box red hot.

Agada makes so many runs off his defenders when his teammates receive that his teammates either do not see or opt for a safer play.

Telling stat

Most stats did not justify Sporting as being the dominant, more attacking side as much as Kansas City’s 11-2 margin in corner kicks.

Moment of the match

Voloder’s strike not only bulged the net, it bulged the eyes..., well, okay, this was written in the 87th minute when Salloi struck a bolt from 20 yards after backtracking and while having two-to-three defenders in his space. Win, win.

And these moments...

Immediately, Thommy’s energy and command on the field at his halftime entrance led to a more vigorous attack for Sporting.

Man of the match

Right center back Robert Voloder scored the all-important second goal to give Kansas City some breathing room, but he also displayed a maturity in his decision making on and off the ball that had not previously been consistent.

Going forward

Sporting KC hosts Minnesota United this coming Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park as the last homestand of the 2022 season hits its middle.

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