Thommy, Agada debut in 2-0 Sporting loss to LA

Forward Erik Thommy launched a free kick in the first half of Sporting Kansas City’s 2-0 loss to Los Angeles FC. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City saw promising debuts from recent signees Erik Thommy and Willy Agada, but the team continued its midseason slide in the standings with a 2-0 home loss to Los Angeles FC Saturday evening.

Thommy, a veteran of the German Bundesliga, started the match as an attacking midfielder and showed his speed and tenacity all over the pitch. He made an immediate impact on the game, setting up a Daniel Salloi shot in the third minute, and finding his own chance in the sixth.

Thommy combined well with winger Salloi and left back Logan Ndenbe throughout the match, and took all the set piece kicks until he was subbed off in the 61st minute.

Head coach Peter Vermes talked about Thommy’s performance in his post-match press conference.

“Thommy has certain qualities that even Gadi Kinda brings where he’s going forward,” Vermes said. “He’s elusive. He gets into the attacking third and he’s looking for things. I mean, even for him to get on the shot that he got onto that he missed in the first half. It’s a great spot for him to be in because that’s where I’d like to see the two attacking midfielders in those spots.”

Nigerian forward Willy Agada came on in the 84th minute as a substitute for Khiry Shelton. He won a free kick on a nice run up the left wing, and headed a Kayden Pierre cross on goal in stoppage time, though the shot was snared by Los Angeles goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

Sporting held Los Angeles scoreless until after halftime. Following an injury at the hour mark to Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia, backup John Pulskamp was in the game only three minutes when he was victimized by an LAFC counter that ended with striker Cristian Arango banging the ball into the upper right corner of the net.

Welsh international superstar Gareth Bale, newly signed to Los Angeles, came on as a substitute in the 65th minute and scored his first MLS goal in the 83rd, assisted by Arango on another breakaway. Despite scoring for the visiting side, the wildly popular Bale got a big ovation from the Children’s Mercy Park crowd.

The loss is Kansas City’s fifth in its last six league contests, and Sporting finds itself in an unusual and unenviable position at the bottom of the MLS Western Conference standings, earning only 20 points in 23 matches played so far.

The bright spot in Kansas City’s season has been its performance in the U.S. Open Cup, and the team will have a chance to continue its run toward the Cup with the semifinal match against Sacramento Republic FC in California on Wednesday, July 27.

Sporting Kansas City will be back at home next Saturday, July 30, against Austin FC. The match will kick off at 7:30 p.m.

Forward Willy Agada maneuvered the ball against LA defender Jesus Murillo. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Los Angeles forward and Wales’ national team star Gareth Bale signed autographs for some fans after the match. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Longtime Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad led the pre-game cheer and then watched the game with fans in the Cauldron supporters’ section. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

An aggressive challenge from LA midfielder Kellyn Acosta sent Felipe Hernandez flying and earned Acosta a yellow card. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Daniel Salloi took a shot in the opening minutes of the match. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

A quick change of direction from forward Marinos Tzionis sent LA midfielder Ilie Sanchez sprawling. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Remi Walter fought for the ball against former Kansas City midfielder Ilie Sanchez. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Cam Duke was taken down in the penalty area late in the game, but no call was given. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Graham Zusi was back on the pitch after several weeks out with a thigh injury. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

KC Current in top form at NWSL season midpoint

Kansas City Current goalkeeper A.D. Franch shared the joy of her team’s 1-0 win over the OL Reign with fans after the match. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

The Kansas City Current weathered an early storm from Seattle’s OL Reign before taking control of their Sunday evening match at Children’s Mercy Park.

In the end, the shot that counted was a game-winning penalty kick from team captain Lo’eau LaBonta in the 18th minute.

Goalkeeper A.D. Franch was on top of her game as well, making four saves to preserve a shutout and Kansas City win.

The 1-0 home victory continued a three-game win streak and seven-game unbeaten streak that has seen the Current climb from the bottom of the NWSL standings to fifth place and playoff contention as the season hits its mid-point.

OL Reign was on the front foot from the get-go, winning two set pieces inside the opening five minutes. Tziarra King and Bethan Balcer both narrowly missed shots to open the action.

Against the run of play, Current midfielder Victoria Pickett earned a penalty kick when she was brought down by Reign defender Phoebe McClernon on a run into the 18-yard box. Lo’eau LaBonta took the kick and hit it high into the right corner to put the home team up 1-0.

OL Reign nearly earned the goal right back in the next few minutes, forcing a save, two blocks and a shot off the post in quick succession.

The hydration break at the 30th minute was a turning point for the home side. Down 9 shots to 1, the Current began to press the issue before halftime, getting three shots off in first half stoppage time.

The Current continued its dominant run after halftime, with Kristen Hamilton hitting two crosses to CeCe Kizer just after the break, though Kizer’s shots were off the mark both times.

Hamilton nearly doubled the lead with a great run in the 70th minute, but her low shot to the left corner was saved by OL Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce.

As time ran down, the Reign pushed numbers high up the field but was unable to find an equalizing goal.

Kansas City defender Alex Loera, a force on both ends of the pitch in the match, was carried off the field with a lower leg injury in stoppage time. She will be evaluated by the team’s medical staff on Monday.

After the match, head coach Matt Potter praised his team’s growth this season.

“I think the journey that we’re on as a group is still to be continued,” said the coach, “but we definitely like where we’re going. So if we can continue to do the things that we like to do, keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard like we do every day, then hopefully there’s more nights like this in the future.”

The Current has the week off before returning to training in advance of the next home game on July 31 against the Orlando Pride.

Midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta struck a penalty kick that put the Current up 1-0 in the 18th minute. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Forward CeCe Kizer got a partial deflection on a clearance from Reign defender Sam Hiatt. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Elyse Bennett had a promising scoring opportunity snuffed out by Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Victoria Pickett was dropped in the penalty area to earn the game-winning penalty kick. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Kate Del Fava raced toward the Reign goal. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce leaped to snare a shot from Kristen Hamilton in the second half. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Forward CeCe Kizer raced for the ball against Reign midfielder Olivia Van der Jagt. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Kristen Hamilton crossed the ball from the right side to CeCe Kizer in the middle. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Hailie Mace pushed up the left wing toward the Reign goal. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Kristen Hamilton got a shot on goal past the attempted block from Reign defender Sam Hiatt. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

Red Bulls play rough, beat Sporting KC 1-0

Defender Aaron Long slid in to disrupt a shot by forward Johnny Russell in Sunday’s match between Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls. New York won the match 1-0. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City let too many opportunities go wanting Sunday evening and let three sorely needed points slip through its grasp and into the clutches of the New York Red Bulls, who triumphed 1-0.

Despite taking 17 shots, including a couple of fine one-on-one chances by Johnny Russell against New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel, Kansas City could not find the back of the net.

Sporting was most successful creating chances down the left side with speedy left back Logan Ndenbe connecting passes to Daniel Salloi and Cam Duke.

The teams were scoreless at halftime, but New York got the game-winner in the 53rd minute via a long range delivery from Lewis Morgan to Aaron Long, who headed the ball in from 6 yards out.

The Red Bulls’ defense played on the edge of violence, racking up a 20-10 disparity in fouls called, and even more uncalled. The brutal play caught up with them in the 68th minute when defender Sean Nealis was shown a red card for a handball that denied Cam Duke an obvious goal-scoring opportunity as he made a clean run into the New York 18-yard box.

Kansas City was unable to turn the man advantage to its favor, and New York still found counter-attacking opportunities despite limited possession time.

An insincere rash of injuries plagued the Red Bulls in the late stages of the match as one after another hit the turf in a barely disguised scheme of time-wasting. The cynical ploy drew the wrath of the Kansas City faithful, and of Kansas City manager Peter Vermes, who denounced it after the game.

“That’s a mockery what took place on the field,” said the coach. “Just the antics, I don’t believe in it. I have no respect for it. I think those things have to be different in our league.”

Kansas City plays its next three games on the road, starting at CF Montreal on July 10. The team’s next match at Children’s Mercy Park will be on July 23 against Los Angeles FC.

After a video assisted review, referee Marcos DeOliveira issued a red card to New York defender Sean Nealis for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Johnny Russell got a shot away but went sprawling in the process. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Felipe Hernandez arced a free kick over the Red Bulls’ wall. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Logan Ndenbe showed some skill to avoid New York forward Cameron Harper. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Cam Duke raced for the ball against New York defender Sean Nealis after Nealis’s arm knocked the ball away from him. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Felipe Hernandez took a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

 

Chased by two Red Bulls defenders, forward Daniel Salloi sprinted for some open space. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)