Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids both entered the match wanting at least a point after losing their respective opening-day matches. Sporting KC lost 1-0 at the Portland Timbers in a weather-delayed match. Colorado was routed by the Seattle Sounders 4-0 last Sunday.
It was the second home opener at the opponent in a row of the season for Sporting KC versus a team that they have struggled against in the last few years. SKC manager Peter Vermes made one change to the starting lineup, replacing Khiry Shelton with Marinos Tzionis on the right side.
SKC had to feel a little déjà vu with some early defensive miscues leading to a goal. Darren Yapi scored his first goal, or at least he thought he had scored. Unlike the goal in Portland, the Colorado goal was disallowed after a VAR check. Yapi was offside after Sam Nicholson barely touched it forward to Yapi.
With the score still level, another scary moment for the visitors occurred when a ball came through the box after John Pulskamp and Yapi collided. The ball bounced off Graham Zusi, rebounded off the post, and came very close to crossing the line before Zusi cleared it.
#Rapids96 pic.twitter.com/8fu0ST5Zld— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) March 5, 2023
There is no doubt that it was very close.
OK, so this is pretty much as close as you can get. I have it 1/8" not-a-goal. Obviously I cannot say it was or was not a goal from that type of measurement here... pic.twitter.com/AU8WSFkyNe— SoccerPhotogrammetry AKA "A Nice Gentleman" (@OffsideModeling) March 5, 2023
Sporting KC outshot Colorado 17-13 and 11-4 on goal but the majority of shots SKC put on frame were also directly to Colorado keeper William Yarbrough. He made eleven saves for the Rapids but only a couple were challenging. The Rapids expected goals was 1.7 versus .7 for Sporting KC, reflecting the lack of quality chances despite the number of shots.
Pulskamp had to come up big on a couple of saves including this shot from perennial pest Michael Barrios.
️ JOHN— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) March 5, 2023
Massive from John Pulskamp to keep Colorado off the board! #SportingKC pic.twitter.com/ArinpbhNM2
Vermes praised Pulskamp's play in the first two matches. “Especially early in the season, you’re going to suffer in situations where things are going to happen and your goalkeeper has to make saves that keep you in the game. You don’t fall apart in those moments. The first save he made and then the other one where Cole kind of came in, that play was a hard ball for him because the space closed down really quickly. John did a really good job anticipating the space so he closed him down quickly so there was no way to get around him. John came up big in the game when he needed to and that’s what you need your goalkeeper to do.”
“There are times when they don’t get any shots and then they get one and they have to make a save to keep us in the game,” Vermes continued. “There’s other times like tonight where there was a lot of action going around. Also, the other thing too, the physicality that he had to stay in the game. There were a couple of situations that he got into where bodies were colliding everywhere and he found a way to stay in the game. He’s a tough young goalkeeper for sure.”
Sporting KC returns for their home opener to face the LA Galaxy who lost at FC Dallas 3-1.
Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Graham Zusi, Robert Voloder, Andreu Fontas, Ben Sweat (Tim Leibold 82’); Remi Walter, Roger Espinoza (Felipe Hernandez 72’), Erik Thommy (C) (Cam Duke 88’); Marinos Tzionis (Khiry Shelton 72’), Willy Agada, Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: Kendall McIntosh, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Chris Rindov, Jake Davis
Colorado Rapids: William Yarbrough (C); Keegan Rosenberry, Lalas Abubakar, Andreas Maxso, Steven Beitashour; Ralph Priso (Max 46’), Cole Bassett, Connor Ronan; Michael Barrios (Braian Galvan 77’), Darren Yapi, Sam Nicholson (Kevin Cabral 63’)
Subs Not Used: Abraham Rodriguez, Sebastian Anderson, Alex Gersbach, Danny Wilson, Bryan Acosta, Calvin Harris
COL — Lalas Abubakar (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 3’
SKC — Roger Espinoza (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 58’
COL — Kevin Cabral (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 69’