KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Sporting Kansas City did a good job of matching Montpellier HSC’s energy on a hot Tuesday night at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting’s reserve-heavy lineup had no answer for the French side’s skill on and off the ball, though, as the reigning league Ligue 1 champs handed their hosts a 3-0 defeat in a friendly.
Montpellier, headed into their first berth in the UEFA Champions League this fall, held Sporting without a shot on goal and won behind two second-half goals from Emanuel Herrera and a first-half tally from Gaetan Charbonnier.
The loss broke a three-match unbeaten streak in international friendlies for Sporting, who are also winless in their last three after draws last year against Newcastle United and CD Guadalajara.
Montpellier came out with an offensive mindset from the opening whistle, outshooting Sporting 12-4 before the break and forcing four first-half saves from Eric Kronberg in his first action of the season.
Kronberg, who was sidelined by back soreness early in the season, made a pretty kick save on Charbonnier’s low shot from close range in the 31st minute but could do nothing to stop his diving header in the 39th.
Midfielder Marco Estrada sent in a well-placed high ball for Charbonnier, a new arrival from Ligue 2 side Angers SCO, and he snapped it past Kronberg and into the net.
Herrera, who came to Montpellier in the offseason after scoring 38 goals over the last two seasons in Chile, showed why he was brought in to replace Olivier Giroud after the latter’s move to Arsenal.
He took a through ball from Anthony Mounier, drove into space in the right side of the penalty area, worked Kronberg off his feet and calmly slotted the ball inside the far post from a tight angle in the 72nd minute for the night's second goal.
Herrera made it 3-0 in stoppage time, racing to track down Kronberg’s deflection of Remy Cabella’s shot and putting it home.
Despite bringing in regular starters C.J. Sapong and Bobby Convey at forward in the second half, Sporting still didn’t manage a shot after the break until the 81st minute. They're back in action this Saturday when they host Columbus.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.