MONTREAL – Sporting Kansas City got Sporting Kansas City-ed.
A week after scoring the fourth-latest goal in MLS history, Kansas City conceded a stoppage-time winner in Montreal and lost 1-0 at Stade Saputo on Saturday night. A 96th-minute strike by Impact substitute Blake Smith snapped Kansas City’s six-game unbeaten run as well as his own team's five-game winless streak.
From the start, Sporting Kansas City put forward some of the reasons why they came into this game with a better points percentage on the road than at home. Their typical pressing forced Montreal into several mistakes, so much so that the Impact completed only 60 percent of their 133 passes in the first half.
Montreal nevertheless found a few chances when they managed to bypass KC’s first wave of pressing. Jimmy Nielsen proved, however, that his howler against Real Salt Lake last Saturday is truly behind him. The goalkeeper came up big against Sanna Nyassi in the 20th minute after Justin Mapp cut inside from the right and threaded a beautiful pass into space to the hard-working Gambian winger.
The Impact kept the ball somewhat better in the second half despite Sporting's introduction of midfielder Benny Feilhaber. Still, they were largely unable to threaten Nielsen while the visitors nearly found an opener amidst a string of set plays.
A 52nd-minute Graham Zusi free kick found the head of Ike Opara, who headed it in front of goal for Claudio Bieler. The Argentinean’s swiveling side volley forced Troy Perkins to leap acrobatically to his left to make the save.
Both coaches introduced youth and fresh legs in the dying minutes, but it was Schällibaum that was rewarded after Marco Di Vaio, taking advantage of a smart dummy by Patrice Bernier, fed an unmarked Smith chugging in from the left wing.
The rookie winger from the University of New Mexico coolly slid his finish through Nielsen's legs to secure a stunning win as Stade Saputo burst into delirium.
SKC will look to start a new streak next Saturday, August 3, as they host the New York Red Bulls, while the Impact will hope to continue their revival at RFK Stadium against D.C. United on the same night.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Blake Smith||He wasn't on the field for very long, but the rookie made the difference with a smart run and ice-veined finish.|
|2||Marco Di Vaio||The Italian worked hard -- and smart -- on his return to the lineup, and it finally paid off deep in injury time.|
|3||Graham Zusi||The US international was the architect of SKC's best sequences as he showed his usual vision and technique.|