KANSAS CITY, Kan. – New York City FC came into Children's Mercy Park on a hot streak – five straight wins, three by shutout, and a rise to the top of the Eastern Conference standings – and with the league's best road record at 5-2-1.
On a hot Sunday night, that all fell apart.
NYCFC looked like what they were – a team built around three aging European stars, playing their third match in eight days and facing a Sporting Kansas City side that is increasingly on the upswing after a rough run of form in the spring.
Manager Patrick Vieira bristled at any suggestion that his side might have given up in the closing minutes of their 3-1 loss, however.
“Do you really believe that we can travel that far just to give up the game? That's not part of our culture and that's not part of who we are as a football club,” Vieira said. “Of course, we have to take into consideration that this was our third game in a week, and that had a massive part in the way we played today, but I have to give credit to the players, because they gave me everything.
“If you look at how they are in the dressing room, they're really, really tired. This is not an easy place to come.”
New York City finished with just 34 percent of the possession, their lowest total since coming into the league as an expansion side in 2015, and were outshot 19-4 on the night.
“It was a night where Kansas played really well,” Vieira said. “We didn't perform very well. It wasn't our best game. But I believe that we just have to keep going and have a few days off and recover for our next game. I think the way that we'll analyze the week is that we had three games, some really difficult games away from home, and we managed to take six points. I believe that was good for the team.”
One bright spot for the visitors was Frank Lampard's fourth goal of the season, which briefly equalized the score at 1-1 in the 14th minute after Benny Feilhaber's putback header opened the scoring for Sporting in the eighth.
Two minutes after Lampard's score, though, Sporting left back Jimmy Medranda drove his first MLS goal home from distance for the match-winner.
“We have to remember what made us win four games recently,” Lampard said. “We'll take out the negatives today and look back at the game a bit and realize that if we drop our standards, we're going to lose games.
“That's the nature of the MLS. You get punished. So it's about picking ourselves up, getting back to New York, working hard and looking forward to the game at the weekend.”