CARSON, Calif. – Sporting Kansas City continued their run as MLS’ lone unbeaten club on Sunday as they improved to 4-0 on the season by defeating Chivas USA 1-0 off a lone goal by forward C.J. Sapong.
After struggling to create offense in the first half, Sporting broke through in the 47th minute when Graham Zusi fired a shot that bounced off the cross bar. The deflection fell back to the midfielder, and Zusi headed it across the goalmouth to a waiting Sapong, who buried a header for his third goal of the season.
Chivas USA controlled possession in the early stages of the match, but had an injury scare in the 19th minute when winger Ryan Smith collided with SKC midfielder Chance Meyers, appearing to injure his right knee. Although Smith was down on the ground for several minutes, the former Sporting man was able to continue.
Following the tackle, the match settled into a physical battle in the midfield in which as both sides looked to earn the game’s first chance. The smash-mouth play ultimately resulted in the game’s first yellow card in the 34th minute for Sporting defender Seth Sinovic for impeding Smith.
As the half wore on, Sporting began to control more of the match and were aggrieved when a penalty was not awarded by referee Edvin Jurisevic in the 39th minute after Chivas defender Rauwshan McKenzie appeared to foul Sapong hard in the box while the striker went up to head down a dangerous cross.
The finest chance of the half came in the 44th minute when Chivas defender James Riley chipped a ball into Smith, who broke his marker and earned a one-on-one with goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, but was unable to get off a shot off before losing control.
After opening the scoring just two minutes into the second half, Sapong nearly struck again in the 49th when his shot was cleared off the line by Chivas USA midfielder Laurent Courtois. In the 54th, the hosts nearly equalized when Courtois played a ball forward to Nick LaBrocca, whose shot bounced off the left post.
The Rojiblancos continued their pressure as the second half wore on, but poor finishing doomed them as they fought for the equalizer. Such was the case in the 66th when defender Ante Jazic played in a cross to a waiting Casey Townsend, who fired a shot well over the bar.
In the 74th minute, Kei Kamara nearly doubled Sporting’s lead off a corner kick when the winger headed a cross that forced a palm save from Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. As the match wore on, the Goats kept pushing forward for the equalizer, but were unable to break Nielsen's bid for his third shutout this season.
Sporting will look for their fifth straight victory next week when they return home to Livestrong Sporting Park next Saturday to host the LA Galaxy on April 7. That same night, Chivas USA travel north to JELD-WEN Field to take on the Portland Timbers.