Sporting Kansas City moved back into first place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-0 victory Saturday against the New England Revolution.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
“It’s a good place to be,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said.
Forward Kei Kamara provided the first two goals, heading home crosses from the left flank by fellow forward Soony Saad in the 27th and 50th minutes to approving roars from the crowd of 19,988 — the 29th consecutive sellout for an MLS match at Sporting Park.
It was the second multigoal game of the season for Kamara, who was making his 14th appearance and 10th consecutive start since returning from a three-month loan to Norwich City of the English Premier League.
“It’s so easy,” said Saad, who recorded his first multiassist game starting in place of the injured Graham Zusi. “You just loft it up there and nine out of 10 times, (Kamara’s) going to win it. He did really well to win the first one. He just climbed above Kevin Alston.
“The second one, I saw in my peripheral vision a blue shirt making a run. I thought it was Kei, so I just clipped it into the danger area. He did excellent to get to it, but I felt like I scored. I was that excited.”
Statistically, Sporting KC, 11-7-6, was dominant from the outset against the defensive-minded Revolution, 8-9-6, who entered play with the best goals-against average in MLS (0.91).
Sporting KC owned more than 60 percent of the possessions and had 495 total passes compared with 160 for New England.
The breakthrough goal came in the 27th minute when Saad whipped in a quick cross as left back Seth Sinovic held the defense’s attention with an overlapping run.
Kamara rose above left back Kevin Alston to meet the left-footed, out-swinging cross 12 yards from goal at the far post, nodding the ball into the left edge for a 1-0 lead.
“Soony has the ability to give a final pass,” Vermes said. “One thing we talk about a lot when Kei’s in the box is to just put the ball up there, where he can go up and make a play.”
New England’s first shot came in the 30th minute, but Saer Sene’s left-footed blast from 25 yards out sailed high and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen appeared to have it covered anyway.
The Revolution’s best chance to tie the game came 10 minutes later when forward Dimitry Imbongo Boele got behind Sporting KC’s back line, but Nielsen smothered the potential equalizer with a sliding chest save.
Five minutes into the second half, Saad delivered a right-footed cross to the near post, but the result was the same — Kamara outdueled the considerably shorter Alston and headed the ball past Shuttleworth.
From there, New England’s comeback fortunes went from bleak to pretty much unthinkable as referee Baldomero Toledo ejected two Revolution players in a game that finished with only 19 players on the field.
Imbongo, who got away with a blindside, hockey-style fore check of Chance Myers away from the ball early in the game and also clocked Matt Besler in the back a few times, was sent off after receiving a second yellow card after he elbowed defensive midfielder Oriol Rosell in the throat.
Midfielder Andy Dorman joined Imbongo in the locker room after drawing a straight red card for a challenge from behind in the 86th minute against Kamara, who limped off with a sprained ankle as the game finished up with 10 Sporting KC players vs. nine Revolution players.
Still, the Revs tried to keep things interesting.
In the 80th minute, Chad Barrett got around Besler and tried to beat Nielsen with a left-footed shot inside the near post, but the White Puma punched the ball to safety for one of his four saves and, in doing so, preserved his league-best ninth shutout of the season.
Instead, Benny Feilhaber, who was traded from the Revs to Sporting KC in December, bombed in a 20-yard free kick during the second minute of stoppage time to push the final result to 3-0, making it a particularly sweet victory for the veteran midfielder.
“I think that will be the case every time I go up against them whether it’s now or 10 years from now,” Feilhaber said. “It’s good to beat them, it’s good to score on them and it’s good for our team to get the three points. All in all, it was a perfect night.”
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.