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.