Sporting's Sapong breaks slump thanks to borrowed cleats
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kei Kamara had two assists on one goal, one that everyone watching saw, and one that he didn’t reveal until after the match.
Not only did Kamara send in a flawless cross from the right wing to set up C.J. Sapong’s fifth-minute tally in Sporting Kansas City’s 2-1 win over San Jose on Sunday, he also loaned Sapong the cleats he used to break a seven-match goalless streak.
“He wouldn’t have scored that goal if he didn’t have my shoes on,” Kamara said jokingly in the postgame news conference.
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Apparently, when Sapong showed up to play at Livestrong Sporting Park, he had forgotten his cleats -- “I guess I must have packed my boots in the wrong bag or something,” he said -- and had to borrow a too-small pair from Kamara.
Sapong, who started nine straight games but didn’t play at all in last week’s draw at Colorado, moved to the left wing in Sunday’s match — with Teal Bunbury getting a second straight nod at center forward — because Bobby Convey was out with a left calf strain.
“It’s a position I’m kind of familiar with,” Sapong said. “And any time you can get me, Kei and Teal on the field at the same time, good things are going to happen.”
They did — and quickly — for the 2011 Rookie of the Year, who opened 2012 with three goals in four matches but hadn’t netted again until Sunday, a stretch of seven matches.
“I try not to think about that stuff,” Sapong said. “It’s usually you guys who remind me. But as a forward, you realize that things are going to happen. You go through your dry spells and you go through your streaks. You just have to appreciate your streaks as much as possible when you’re going through them and keep a good mind when you’re in a bit of a drought. That’s what I try to do, and hopefully this is the start of a new streak.”
Convey might not be available for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match against Orlando City FC, manager Peter Vermes said on Sunday, so Sapong could be called on again.
And next time out — whether that’s in Cup play or in Sporting’s return to league competition June 16 against Toronto FC — he’ll be in his own boots, not Kamara’s.
“I’m not keeping them,” he said. “My toes couldn’t handle all that.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.