Sporting Kansas City has used a familiar formula to get back on track in the early 2015 season: defense.
The club entered Sunday’s match against the Philadelphia Union with a 197-minute shutout streak after posting clean sheets in its previous two matches against Portland and NYC FC.
This is nothing new for Sporting KC, of course. The club has had no shortage of such streaks in franchise history, none longer than the 681-minute scoreless streak it posted in 2000, when it won the first MLS Cup in club history.
Philadelphia, meanwhile had been having a hard time putting the ball in the net. The Union entered Sunday’s match not having scored in 212 minutes. The Union scored in only one of its first four matches of the season, a 3-3 tie against Real Salt Lake.
Both streaks didn’t last long after kickoff. Philadelphia got a goal in the third minute when Sporting KC’s Jacob Peterson was credited with an own-goal after deflecting a corner kick into his own net.
▪ Philadelphia forward C.J. Sapong made his return to Sporting Park after being traded to the Union on Dec. 8.
Sapong played in Kansas City from 2011-14, logging 27 goals and 12 assists in 143 total appearances.
Sporting KC recognized Sapong during pregame warmups. Sapong blew kisses to the crowd, which responded with a warm ovation.
▪ Sporting KC welcomed back a pair of players from international duty.
Defender Marcel de Jong and midfielder Roger Espinoza were back in the starting lineup after missing one match while on international duty with Canada and Honduras, respectively.
The club was without the services of U.S. men’s national team mainstay Graham Zusi, who left last week’s match against NYCFC in the first half with a hamstring injury.
▪ Sporting KC reached a pair of club milestones on Sunday. The match against the Philadelphia Union was the 600th regular-season match in club history, and its 300th regular-season home match.
▪ Ike Opara was named to his third MLSSoccer.com Team of the Week in four matches, and not just because he headed home the lone tally in the 1-0 victory at NYC FC. Opara, a defender, was also credited with a match-high 13 clearances and nine interceptions as well.
| Todd Engle, Special to The Star