A power outage struck a portion of Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday afternoon, hours before Sporting Kansas City welcomed New York City FC to town for the first time. The outage blackened the outskirts of the stadium.
But in a quarter-hour, Sporting KC reinvigorated its home venue.
Sporting KC scored twice in the opening 16 minutes Sunday, the precursor to a 3-1 victory in front of 19,881 fans at Children’s Mercy Park.
In a dominating effort, Sporting KC, 8-8-4, extended its unbeaten streak to five matches, transforming an early-season seven-game winless streak into a mere footnote. The club moved to fifth place in the Western Conference standings, three points clear of a playoff spot.
“I think we’re getting back to our DNA,” coach Peter Vermes said.
The relentless pressure, more of a mirage in the early months, has been a fixture during the unbeaten streak, and it was present Sunday from the opening whistle against the Eastern Conference leaders.
Benny Feilhaber turned it into an early lead in the eighth minute, and after New York City FC midfielder Frank Lampard answered, Jimmy Medranda tallied the first goal of his career to put Sporting KC in front permanently.
Ike Opara notched the insurance goal in the second half, his first goal of the year.
“We knew we needed to turn it around. We knew we had a little bit of a lull,” Opara said. “The guys know it’s time to pick up points, and the urgency has got to pick up.”
No lull Sunday.
Feilhaber was credited with the goal in the eighth minute, but it required only a simple tap in — the easiest of his career, he said.
After New York City FC keeper Josh Saunders dived to get a hand on a shot from Jacob Peterson, the rebound clanked off the post and plopped in front of the goal.
Feilhaber was there.
He was often in the middle of the action Sunday.
After a slow start to the season that included a benching, Feilhaber has shown signs of a return to his 2015 form, which placed him third in the league’s MVP voting. He later supplied a side-footed, one-touch pass to set up Opara’s goal in the 51st minute in an effortless motion.
Over the last four matches, Feilhaber has notched three goals and two assists. Sporting KC has scored at least twice in all four matches, its first time reaching that feat since July 2014.
Medranda put them there Sunday with a deep shot from 25 yards out.
“I was so happy because every game I try to do that,” Medranda said. “Today was my day.”
On Sunday, the club’s offensive firepower came without two of its top weapons.
Dom Dwyer served a one-game suspension Sunday for yellow-card accumulation, and Graham Zusi sat with hamstring tightness. Zusi suffered the minor strain during practice Friday, and after testing the injury during warmups Sunday, he elected to sit.
Matt Besler also was placed on the bench Sunday for the second straight match, but it was the result of Vermes’ decision.
The back four — Medranda, Opara, Lawrence Olum and Saad Abdul-Salaam — allowed only three shots Sunday. Sporting KC has given up five goals over its last five matches.
“We talked bout getting back to a foundation of what’s really important — and that’s defending,” Vermes said. “We want to be a really difficult team to play against when it comes to trying to break us down.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY 3
NEW YORK CITY FC 1
New York City FC
NEW YORK CITY FC: Josh Saunders; Jason Hernandez(Mikey Lopez, 80th), Frederic Brillant, Jefferson Mena, RJ Allen; Frank Lampard(Partrick Mullins, 63rd), Andoni Iraola, Andrea Pirlo; Jack Harrison, David Villa, Ronald Matarrita(Thomas McNamara, HT).
KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara(Nuno Coelho, 84th) Lawrence Olum, Jimmy Medranda; Benny Feilhaber, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza; Jacob Peterson(Connor Hallisey, 71st), Diego Rubio(Justin Mapp, 90+2), Graham Zusi.
New York City FC: 2, Frank Lampard 4(Ronald Matarrita, Andrea Pirlo), 14th minute.
Kansas City: 1, Benny Feihlaber, 5, 8th minute; 3, Jimmy Medranda 1, 16th minute. 4, Ike Opara 1, 51st minute.
Shots on goal
New York City FC: David Villa, 83rd minute.
Kansas City: None.
New York City FC: None.
Kansas City: None.
Referee: Ismail Elfath.
Assistant referee: Frank Anderson.
Assistant referee: Kermit Quisenberry.
4th official: Edvin Jurisvic.
Announced attendance: 19,881.