NEW YORK – Talk about making a great first impression.
With two goals in his MLS debut, Sporting Kansas City forward Omar Bravo earned the first MLS Player of the Week award of the season as voted on North American Soccer Reporters (NASR). The brace by Sporting's Designated Player helped his team down Chivas USA 3-2 at The Home Depot Center.
Bravo's first strike came just before the halftime whistle when he capitalized on a failed defensive clearance by Chivas USA from a Kei Kamara cross. Bravo was in perfect position to get to the ball first and lob the ball over goalkeeper Zach Thornton for a 2-0 KC lead.
With 16 minutes remaining, Bravo put the game out of reach, finishing a passing combination involving KC’s three forwards and poking the ball past an onrushing Thornton.
“I actually think the first 25 minutes he was struggling a little bit,” Sporting manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “The reason why is because he wanted to prove so much. He’s a DP, it’s his debut, he’s playing against Chivas – there’s so much that I just think he was too anxious.“
After each of his two goals, the 31-year-old forward engaged in a muted celebration, clasping his hands together almost as if to apologize to the Chivas USA fans, many of whom also applauded his tallies. Bravo came to Kansas City after a decade during which he became a legend with Mexican giants Chivas de Guadalajara, sister club of Chivas USA.
Sporting’s road victory was the perfect start to an MLS-record 10 consecutive away games to start the 2011 season as the team awaits to christen new LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on June 9 against the Chicago Fire.
“This start gives me hope, but we’ve got a tough calendar ahead of us,” Bravo said after the match. “It’s nine more games that we have to play on the road. We have to take it step by step and play just like [Saturday].”