Alan Pulido's game-winner left San Jose "chasing shadows" vs. Sporting KC


If you could draw up a perfect team goal, it would be exactly what Sporting Kansas City orchestrated in Saturday's 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 29th-minute move involved a stunning series of passes from end to end, with multiple players touching the ball and weaving their way around defenders before Alan Pulido put it in the back of the net.

“It was a beautiful goal,” manager Peter Vermes said post-match at Children's Mercy Park. “It’s the kind of things that you work on tirelessly, and then when you see it happen like that you’re pretty pleased.”

The give-and-go between Jake Davis and Johnny Russell sparked the set-up, but numerous aspects stood out – from Erik Thommy’s run back to Dániel Sallói spreading the field.

“It was as if at those moments, through that sequence, they were chasing shadows just because we were moving off the ball well, our timing was very good, the weight of the passes were great,” Vermes explained.

Most importantly, it got SKC their first victory of the season, something that took them 11 games to do last year. And it was also Pulido’s first goal of the season.

If Vermes’ squad wants to be a legit contender, it’s no secret their DP striker needs to lead them there and recreate the form that saw him score 14 goals in 2023.

“Alan always has a really good sense of finding that space for that kind of ball,” Vermes said of the Mexican star. “Great finish by him.”

Pulido's finishing ability is never in question. But when you see him involved in a highlight-reel team goal like that, it creates optimism about how good SKC can be in the final third.

And that’s after conceding the opening strike and trailing just 11 minutes into the match. The mentality from that point changed; they stopped giving the ball away and two quick goals were the reward to take the three points.

"It was an amazing pass and amazing plays for all the team," Pulido said. "It’s a fantastic goal. I was in a very good position for a score. But I'm more happy for the team and everybody’s movements in the field."

Four games into the season and no losses so far (1W-0L-3D) – 2024 is already off to a much-improved start for Vermes' team.