KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kei Kamara scored his seventh goal of the season and Kansas City put up a shutout as Sporting KC defeated D.C. United 1-0 Sunday night in front of 15,352 fans at Livestrong Sporting Park.
As they have for much of their current home stand, Kansas City grabbed the initiative from the opening kick, threatening United’s goal just 30 seconds into the game.
Sporting followed that up a minute-and-a-half later with an even better opportunity as Kamara beat Brandon McDonald one-on-one on the touchline then picked out C.J. Sapong at the back post with a floated cross. Sapong attempted to apply an acrobatic finish, but his flying scissor kick was way over the crossbar.
Sporting kept the pressure on as DC, using a somewhat makeshift lineup, struggled to cope. Kamara nearly made them pay in the 16th minute when he rose above Dejan Jakovic to get a head on Chance Myers’ cross, but his flick hit the crossbar.
The dam burst soon thereafter as Kamara made good on Kansas City’s sustained pressure just three minutes later. Omar Bravo’s cross into a crowd was cleared out of the penalty area, but Kamara tracked down the ball, controlled it with his thigh and unleashed an unstoppable blast on the half volley from just outside the box that goalkeeper Joe Willis could only watch hit the back of the net.
Sporting continued to control the match following the goal, but Ben Olsen’s team finally found some space to maneuver in the 40th minute. Following a long throw in from Chris Pontius, Graham Zusi slipped on the ball and Josh Wolff found Blake Brettschneider in a pocket of space in the area. Brettschneider managed to get off a dangerous shot to the back post, but goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen got down quickly to palm the ball wide.
Olsen inserted Dwayne De Rosario for Brettschneider to start the second half in search of the equalizer after resting the Canadian attacker for the first 45.
It was De Rosario who nearly pulled DC back into it when he sent a curling effort past Nielsen’s far post a few minutes into the half.
But that was really all DC could muster before Kansas City resumed forcing play into United’s half. United’s defenders managed to clear two dangerous balls from Kamara from in front of net, and Willis did well to keep out a dangerous long-distance strike from Zusi.
DC tried to answer with a few long-range efforts of their own but couldn’t put them on frame to test Nielsen.
As the game progressed, Vermes removed Teal Bunbury for defensive midfielder Birahim Diop and Bravo for Michael Harrington to provide some defensive steel while Olsen sent Marc Burch and Joseph Ngwenya on to add some bite to the attack.
In the end, defense won out as Sporting held onto their 1-0 lead and saw off United’s late pressure to collect another three points at home and further their efforts to solidify a spot in the postseason.
With the victory, Kansas City (9-7-9) moved into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference on 36 points. D.C. United (7-7-10) remained a point behind the New York Red Bulls for the final wild card position with 31 points, but have two games in hand.
Kansas City will be back in action next Saturday when they host FC Dallas while United’s next match will come on the same day in Portland against the Timbers.
SKC – Kei Kamara 7 (unassisted) 19
DCU –- Perry Kitchen (caution; Tactical Foul) 35
DCU -– Santino Quaranta (caution; Reckless Foul) 54
D.C. United– Joe Willis, Perry Kitchen, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard (Joseph Ngwenya 80), Andy Najar, Clyde Simms, Santino Quaranta, Chris Pontius, Josh Wolff, (Marc Burch 65) Blake Brettschneider (Dwayne De Rosario 46)
Substitutes Not Used: Steve Cronin, Austin Da Luz, Stephen King, Ethan White
Sporting Kansas City – Jimmy Nielsen, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Julio Cesar, Chance Myers, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury (Birahim Diop 73)
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg, Milos Stojcev, Soony Saad, Shavar Thomas, Michael Harrington, Korede Aiyegbusi
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner, Jason Cullum
4th Official: Ismail Elfath
Weather: Sunny and 89 degrees