KANSAS CITY, Kan. – With a converted penalty kick in first-half stoppage time and the dismissal of Montreal manager Marco Schallibaum during the intermission, Sporting Kansas City brought plenty of momentum back onto the pitch for the second half of their showdown against the Canadian champions at Sporting Park.
But in just eight minutes, the Impact stole it back and took over the Eastern Conference lead.
After Claudio Bieler's spot kick put Sporting up 1-0, Montreal got goals from Sanna Nyassi in the 47th minute and Collen Warner in the 53rd. Despite the ejection of defender Alessandro Nesta for head-butting Bieler in the 74th minute, the Impact held on for a 2-1 victory that moved them ahead of New York into first place in the East.
The newly-crowned Voyageurs Cup champions (8-2-2) avenged a 2-0 loss at Sporting Park on March 30 – a match from which Schallibaum was also ejected, that time for throwing water at an official. Sporting (6-5-4) saw their winless streak hit three matches.
FULL BOX SCORE AND MATCH STATISTICS
With both teams playing wide open, the Impact used their speed and crisp passing to create several good chances throughout the first half, but could not convert on any of them.
The visitors missed back-to-back opportunities to go up 1-0 at the 40-minute mark after Marco Di Vaio's flick-on set up Felipe Martins for a 1-on-1 with Jimmy Nielsen. Martins banged his shot off the right post, collected his own rebound when the ball skipped back past Nielsen, and slotted a pass to Di Vaio – only to see the Italian striker push his shot wide left.
Then, in stoppage time, Nesta – who battled with Bieler all night before his ejection – pulled the Argentinian forward down from behind at the edge of the penalty area. Referee Armando Villareal consulted with his assistant before pointing to the spot, and Bieler buried his kick into the lower left corner of the goal.
That lead didn't last long after the two sides emerged from the locker room, though.
In the 47th, after Martins drew a yellow-card foul on Mechack Jerome deep in Sporting's end, Kansas City could not clear the resulting free kick and Nyassi collected the ball at the edge of the area. His low shot through traffic beat Jimmy Nielsen as Sporting called for an offside flag.
Another poor clearance after a set piece led to Warner's game-winner in the 53rd. Martins kept Montreal's possession alive with a bicycle kick after a scramble in the area, and Peterson Joseph's mishit clearance attempt instead fell to Warner in front of the goal for an easy finish.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: Sporting pour on pressure but struggle to score
Sporting's best chance to equalize after Nesta's ejection didn't come until the closing seconds of stoppage time, when Kei Kamara pushed his shot from Bieler's cross just wide of the right post.
Nesta and Schallibaum will both be suspended when Montreal return to action on June 15 at Columbus. Sporting, who host Orlando City on June 12 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, do not play again in MLS until they visit FC Dallas on June 22.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Felipe Martins||The Brazilian is back to being dangerous again: drawing fouls, keeping scoring sequences alive and giving Sporting's defense more than it could handle.|
|2||Matteo Ferrari||Despite all the pressure from SKC, the Impact back line was unflappable and the steady Italian was a big reason why with timely interventions and step-ups.|
|3||Claudio Bieler||Love him or hate him, he left his stamp on the game by drawing and converting a first-half PK and frustrating Alessandro Nesta into a red card.|