CARSON, Calif. — Sporting Kansas City took over the top spot in both the Western Conference and Supporter’s Shield standings with a 2-0 win at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night. Tim Melia made seven saves to keep a clean sheet. Johnny Russell and Khiry Shelton scored their first two goals of the season.
Tim Melia stands on head, leads Sporting KC to victory
“It was one of those games where you had to dig deep,” Peter Vermes said. “LA was good. They were organized. They found good moments to really press the ball. It was a really difficult game for us. It was one of the more difficult games we’ve had to play.”
Tim Melia had made five saves before the clock struck 30. The Galaxy, despite missing their Mexican star, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, layed siege to the Sporting KC net, counterpressing their way to chance after chance. Sporting KC couldn’t get the ball out of their own half, and registered one shot in the first half, to the Galaxy’s nine.
“I thought for 78 minutes, it was arguably the best game we’ve played all year,” Greg Vanney said. “The part that missed was putting the ball in the back of the net. The piece where you create so many chances. We have to score because it doesn’t matter how well you play.”
Sporting KC had to withstand the storm a bit though in the second half and eventually started to gain a footing in the match. Vermes never made a sub, trusting his starting XI to go the entire distance. Eventually they were fruitful.
After Andreu Fontás smashed his header from point blank off the upright, on the ensuing goal kick Jonathon Bond played the Galaxy right into the press from Sporting KC. Felipe Hernandez won the ball of the defender, played in Johnny Russell whose first attempt was saved by Bond, but the follow up header was easy for Russell to slot home and Sporting took the lead after looking the least likely to score for the first 80 minutes.
The Galaxy pushed for an equalizer, but they got caught out at the end of stoppage time and Khiry Shelton went coast to coast, deking Johnathon Bond and finishing the match at 2-0.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 5, 2021
- While they didn’t score, the Galaxy should be happy with their performance. In the past, when the Galaxy have been without their super-star man, the team has tended go limp. Not under Greg Vanney though. They were hungry, creative and really the better side for most of the match. Sporting withstood the onslaught, yes. But the Galaxy have a lot of positives to build on in that match.
- Tim Melia loves playing in Carson. Similar to how a baseball player might love hitting in a stadium because of how well he can see the ball, Melia is comfortable and in command. “I played here with Chivas (USA),” Melia said postgame. “It was always a place that I didn’t accumulate as many minutes as I wanted to so every time I get the opportunity to play here I enjoy playing here. The weather was great. It’s a game you have to be extra focused in because of how good the Galaxy are.”
- Confidence is contagious, and has led Sporting KC to the top of the West and Supporter’s Shield standings. Daniel Salloi’s resurgence has boiled down to a shift in confidence, and the rest of Sporting KC are following suit. “Confidence is high, that’s why we are where we are, we’re confident in each other, confident in the team, we know exactly what it is that we want to do,” Johnny Russell said. “You just appreciate some games where you don’t play your best, everyone that watched that would say we weren’t at our best, but we’ve shown that we can come from behind, we’ve shown that we can grind out results now when we aren’t playing well so that’s the signs of a great team and we’re showing that.”
Main Photo Credit:
Embed from Getty Images