HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls may have talked at length this week about not wanting to concede another early goal, but Sporting Kansas City clearly were not listening.
Sporting KC handed the Red Bulls their first loss of the season inside of Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night, riding a pair of early strikes from C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara to a 2-0 victory that extended the visitors’ lead atop the Eastern Conference.
The win improved Sporting KC to 16-7-6 and gives them 54 points in the tight Eastern Conference, five ahead of New York (14-8-7) and four in front of the Chicago Fire (15-8-5), who have a game in hand.
It was another slow start for the Red Bulls, who conceded the majority of possession to Sporting in the opening minutes. That allowed for the visitors to earn a free kick that wound up giving them the lead 12 minutes in.
Graham Zusi’s curling shot clanged off the crossbar but the ball fell to Matt Besler, who passed the ball to Sapong. The Sporting forward didn’t think twice about the opportunity, turning and rifling a shot past Bill Gaudette.
Things got worse for New York before they got better, as Kei Kamara doubled the lead for KC nine minutes later. Kamara broke away from Wilman Conde’s marking at the near post and headed home a Zusi corner kick with ease for his 11th goal of the season and second this campaign against the Red Bulls.
New York were forced to take more chances going forward and although they came close on a pair of occasions, they were never able to pull one back before halftime.
Needing to make changes in order inspire a rally, Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe brought on Kenny Cooper for Dax McCarty at halftime. He also subbed on Lloyd Sam and Sébastien Le Toux in the second half in an effort to inject life into a Red Bulls attack held largely in check by Sporting KC’s stingy defense.
The result saw New York look more lively in the attacking third, but their lack of sharpness prevented them from creating many quality looks on goal as they suffered their first loss at home in 2012.
Sporting KC will finish their quick two-game road trip with a visit to Stade Saputo to face the Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, will round out a three-games-in-eight-days stretch on Saturday night when they travel to take on the New England Revolution.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||C.J. Sapong||With two goals in two matches, the big man is back. His settle, turn and finish for Sporting's opener gave his team a dream start.|
|2||Matt Besler||Quietly anchored a clean-sheet display by Sporting's back line, and chipped in a quick-thinking assist on Sapong's goal for good measure.|
|3||Thierry Henry||Hard-working and inventive, the Red Bulls DP was ready for this important match -- unlike many of his teammates.|