HARRISON, N.J. – Sporting Kansas City simply continue to make the case that they are the best defensive team in MLS.
Sporting extended their shutout streak to five straight games on Wednesday night, defeating the New York Red Bulls 1-0 at Red Bull Arena. Aurélien Collin led the way for a Sporting KC side that frustrated the Red Bulls, scoring an early goal and making several timely tackles in a man of the match performance.
The result improved Sporting KC to 5-1-2 and sent them to the top of the Eastern Conference (see standings) while dropping New York to 2-4-2 on the season.
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Collin scored his first of the season and rewarded the visitors for their sharp start to the match in the 13th minute. After Graham Zusi whipped in a corner kick from the right, Collin fought off tight marking from Jamison Olave to create some space to head home the ball into the top corner.
The Red Bulls responded by winning more possession, but they were unable to put away any of the ensuing half-chances they created against Sporting KC’s stifling defense. Things became worse for the hosts in the 33rd minute when Olave had to be replaced by Heath Pearce because of a left knee injury.
With Collin leading the way with several timely interventions, Sporting KC continued to defend well with numbers and they took the lead into halftime. They bossed the opening 15 minutes of the second half but it was New York who had the best opportunity in the 64th minute.
Roy Miller, one of the better Red Bulls players on the day, served a cross from the left flank that fell perfectly to an open Thierry Henry. The star striker brought the ball down well but pushed his chance wide of Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and the far post to keep the visitors on top.
OPTA Chalkboard: Sporting's timely defense snuffs out Red Bulls attacks
The Red Bulls had one last chance through a Juninho free kick that the Brazilian midfielder earned himself, but the shot smashed into the wall and Sporting KC closed out the game with a combination of possession and tidy defending.
Adding insult to injury and showing New York’s frustrations further, Juninho was shown a direct red card in stoppage time for kicking a would-be goal kick at Nielsen.
The two teams face a short turnaround, as they return to action this Saturday. The Red Bulls play their third game in eight days when they host the New England Revolution (7 pm ET, MLS Live), while Sporting KC travel to the West Coast to face the LA Galaxy (10:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Aurelien Collin||The goal set SKC on their way, but the Frenchman was an absolute beast in the back, making a couple highlight-reel tackles and dominating in the air|
|2||Graham Zusi||Once again the engine in Sporting's midfield. Provided good service, most notably on Collin's goal, and his distribution from the run of play was strong, too|
|3||Jimmy Nielsen||Didn't have too much to do, but was solid in his shot-stopping and made up for some dicey punches with strong plays elsewhere|