KANSAS CITY, Kan. – For 88 disjointed and chippy minutes on Friday night, Sporting Kansas City had more yellow cards than shots on goal and appeared headed for their third scoreless draw in their last four matches.
In the 89th, Claudio Bieler changed that to “second straight shutout win.”
Bieler's fourth goal of the year, off an assist from Soony Saad, lifted Sporting to a 1-0 victory that saw Jimmy Nielsen earn his league-leading fourth consecutive clean sheet. Nielsen had to make just one save against a United side that was cautioned three times, while Kansas City saw yellow twice and put just two shots on frame, yet still managed to beat D.C. for the fifth straight time.
Sporting (3-1-2) moved into second place in the Eastern Conference and have not given up a goal in 429 minutes, also best in MLS this season. United (1-3-1) are winless over their last three matches and were shut out for the third time in five games.
Bieler moved into second place on the league scoring table, delivering at the death after a hustling sequence that led to Saad's first assist of the year.
The second-half sub started the play by swiping possession from D.C.'s Marcos Sánchez, then nutmegged Marcelo Saragosa at the byline before cutting the ball back to Bieler just outside the 6-yard box.
Kansas City's Designated Player buried his left-footed shot inside the far post, giving Sporting all three points in a match that had seen them struggle to build out of the back and connect on passes in the attacking third.
United's best chance came in first-half stoppage time, when Lionard Pajoy fired just left of Nielsen's goal after some nifty dribbling, and after the break they appeared content to keep numbers back and play for the road point – a strategy that came close to paying off.
D.C. are back in action when they host New York on April 13, while Sporting are idle until their away date with the Red Bulls on April 17.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Matt Besler||Was on point defensively all game, including a crucial late tackle after the goal. Looked sound playing out of the back|
|2||Claudio Bieler||Quiet for parts of the game, but worked hard and gets on the list for his well-taken game-winning finish|
|3||Perry Kitchen||Led the DC midfield in making it very hard for Sporting to play and looked sound with the ball at his feet|