It was a dream start to the 2021 season for Daniel Salloi after a nightmarish two years. 

The homegrown Sporting Kansas City forward, who scored just once in his previous 35 MLS games, struck for the winner to lead SKC to a 2-1 road win over the New York Red Bulls Saturday. 

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes dubbed the goal, Salloi’s first in the regular season since Sept. 29, 2019, as “magnificent.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Daniel has all those aspects that go with the game,” Vermes said after the match. “I’m very happy he got the goal tonight because it was a magnificent goal — just the buildup, the way we got there, we work on that stuff pretty regularly so to see that happen is pretty rewarding even for the coaching staff.”

Salloi’s back-post finish came one minute after Gadi Kinda’s equalizer from the penalty spot. After a breakthrough 2018, in which he had 11 goals and seven assists, Salloi scored once in 2019 and only appeared in seven matches — starting once — in 2020. 

Suffice to say, Salloi was ecstatic about opening the season with a goal — a winner at that. 

“I needed that goal a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to me and I’m very happy for it. Hopefully this is going to be how the season progresses after this.”

Salloi, though, had an agonizingly long wait for the goal to be called official following Video Review.

“i don’t know, was somebody offside or something? Honestly I was just like please guys don’t do this to me, give me that goal,” Salloi said. “I need that goal.”

Vermes’ praise wasn’t just for the finish. He acknowledged the preseason workrate and mentality and especially his movement off the ball Saturday night. 

“It doesn’t surprise me because he’s been doing so well in preseason,” Vermes said. “He came in with a great mentality, fit, he’s worked on both sides of the ball. Like i said earlier, his movement of the ball was tremendous today. I thought he caused a lot of problems for their right back because he was just getting in behind him and putting him under pressure.”

Salloi thanked the SKC coaching staff and teammates, among others, for keeping their faith in him. 

It was rewarded Saturday night and Salloi hopes it’s a sign of things to come in a bounce-back season. 

“This is amazing,” Salloi said. “I’m very happy and I can’t wait to play the next game and the next one and keep progressing.”

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