KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Claudio Bieler and Graham Zusi were already having a good afternoon. Once Sporting Kansas City got a man advantage on Chivas USA, their day got even better.
Bieler scored twice, the second time from the penalty spot after the ejection of Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, and Zusi had a goal and an assist as Sporting snapped a two-match losing streak with a 4-0 rout of the shorthanded Goats on Sunday at Sporting Park.
With the win, Sporting KC (5-3-2) moved back into a share of a three-way tie – with Montreal and New York – for the Eastern Conference lead, while quietly, without having to make a save or even face a shot on goal, Jimmy Nielsen took over Sporting's club record with his 38th clean sheet in MLS and sixth of the season.
Chivas USA (3-4-2), meanwhile, saw their winless streak extended to four games as they've slid slowly out of the upper reaches of the Western Conference and failed to keep pace with the five teams ahead of them in the standings
Bieler's goals came in the 41st and 57th minutes while Zusi scored in the 65th to go along with his fourth assist of the season, which moved him into a share of the league lead with Real Salt Lake's Joao Plata.
Sporting opened the scoring five minutes from halftime thanks to some horrific defending from Chivas' backline. Left winger Jacob Peterson outran Bobby Burling to a ball deep in the Chivas end, forcing the defender into a quick turn and a giveaway to Zusi, who sent the ball to Bieler just outside the penalty area. The Designted Player striker then faked Kennedy into a slide before slotting the ball calmly between two defenders for his fifth goal of the year.
Bieler's sixth came after an even worse error from Kennedy, who was shown red by official Baldomero Toledo red after clipping Paulo Nagamura's back foot from behind on a breakaway in the box in the 54th minute. Chivas brought on Patrick McLain for his MLS debut, and he could only watch as Bieler buried his spot kick.
Zusi then added his own strike 11 minutes later, running onto a cross from second-half sub Josh Gardner, and one-timed the ball in the roof of the net.
With the outcome beyond doubt, second-half substitute C.J. Sapong added a final insult three minutes from time, side-footing Mechack Jerome's cross from the right wing for his first goal of the 2013 season.
Sporting KC next host Seattle on Wednesday, in a rematch of last year's US Open Cup final. Chivas USA, meanwhile – sans Kennedy – head to Portland on May 12.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Graham Zusi (SKC)||Everything ran trough Sporting's main man, who was involved in every surge forward in a masterful evening.|
|2||Claudio Bieler (SKC)||Clinical shift from the DP striker, who nearly had a hat trick if not for Zusi being whistled offside in the 62nd.|
|3||Chivas backline (SKC)||Hard to call out a third Sporting player who had more of an influence on the match than did the Goats' entire back three, who were a Keystone Kops routine all night, especially on Bieler's opener. Horrific stuff.|