With the largest home crowd of the season on hand, Sporting Kansas City returned from a two-week hiatus and laid an egg Saturday at Livestrong Sporting Park.
The expansion Montreal Impact — which went with a patchwork lineup, opting to rest some starters in preparation for a Canadian Cup showdown Wednesday with Toronto FC — stunned Sporting KC 2-0 despite being outshot 22-6 and conceding 11 corner kicks.
The crowd of 20,404 watched Montreal, 3-5-2, claim its first road win, while delivering the first regular-season shutout win by an opponent in Livestrong’s brief history.
“Overall, it was our worst performance of the season,” Sporting KC goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen said.
The Impact connected on the only two shots it managed to put on goal and prevailed despite being dominated nearly two-to-one in possession time.
“We didn’t come to compete today, and that was a big part of why we lost,” coach Peter Vermes said. “We were too slow, we didn’t circulate the ball and we weren’t moving off the ball well enough.”
Sporting KC, 7-2-0, which has lost two straight after a seven-game winning streak to kick off the season, was especially stagnant in the attacking third.
“Montreal kind of had a makeshift team tonight and maybe we took them a little lightly with our mentality, but I hope everybody realizes that and comes out next week ready to bring their best,” said Michael Harrington, who started at left back in place of Seth Sinvoic. “That’s what it takes to win.”
The Impact took the lead in the 30th minute when midfielder Felipe Martins bent a blistering line-drive shot from 25 yards out around Aurelien Collin and inside the post, beating a diving Nielsen.
“I got screened and that’s why I probably reacted a little late,” Nielsen said. “I’ve not seen it on video, but from the outside it probably didn’t look very good from my side. That’s normally a shot I expect myself to save.”
Down a goal at halftime for the second straight game, Sporting KC put on the pressure early in the second half.
Off a restart, Graham Zusi played a short pass to Bobby Convey, who feathered a chip to the far post where Blue Valley West graduate Matt Besler had managed to slip away from the defense. But Besler’s header sailed high at the far post.
“I took my eye off it for a second,” Besler said. “There was a guy in front of me, who jumped up and it went about an inch over his head. But no excuse, I need to put that one in.”
Six minutes later, forward Kei Kamara beat Ricketts to another chip, this one from Harrington, but again the header went high over the crossbar.
Disaster struck in the 64th minute, when Patrice Bernier put Montreal further in front with a penalty kick. He got Nielsen to commit with a hesitation as he approached the ball and blasted it into the left side.
“If you look at the play that led to it, terrible on our part from the throw-in,” Vermes said. “The whole play should have been totally different. Shame on us for putting ourselves in that position and then you have to react the way (Collin) did. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a penalty, but it was called and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
It was the first penalty kick Sporting KC had allowed since May 14, 2011, in a 4-1 loss at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Collin nearly atoned a few times down the stretch.
In the 66th minute, he nearly drew a goal back with a header off a free kick from Zusi, but the volley sailed barely wide.
Collin tried to beat a header into the ground hard enough to bounce it over Donovan Ricketts in the 88th minute and sent another header off the crossbar in the 90th minute.
“I feel like they kind of played our game, but they played it better than us today,” Kamara said.