Sporting Kansas City Fall To LAFC

Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi with the ball on March 26, 2022
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LOS ANGELES, CA — The first tally on Sunday belonged to the visitors, but it was the only one they would get. LAFC scored just before halftime and twice after the break as Sporting Kansas City fall to LAFC, 3-1, to extend their losing streak to three matches. Their road losing streak has now reached seven, dating back to last season.

Sporting Kansas City Fall 3-1 to LAFC

Sporting KC Draw First Blood

In the 37-minute, a slip by LAFC defender Diego Palacios allowed Sporting captain Johnny Russell to pounce on a loose ball. Russell made a fantastic 60-yard solo run toward the LAFC net and attempted a shot from a difficult angle. Palacios’s dive at the last second deflected the ball past goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau to give Sporting a lead.

Different Game, Same Problems

Roughly five minutes after the Palacios own goal, LAFC was awarded a free kick approximately 25 yards out. Cristian Arango took the free-kick and banged it off the post. The rebound found its way to Palacios, who sent it back into the penalty area, finding Mamadou Fall at the back post.

Fall then headed it back across goal where Arango was relatively unmarked and he headed it into the back of the net. Sporting’s defense continues to have a problem with being second to react on set pieces and the aftermath.

After the match, manager Peter Vermes said, “I haven’t seen the replay (of LAFC’s first goal) yet, but they get a free-kick and the ball goes wide, then the guy hits it from a long way away and they get a header off the cross.

It’s a little tough to give up that goal right before halftime. We’ve got to do everything we can not to, but we were in a good place coming into the second half, for sure. I thought we were playing well.”

Cherundolo Pushed The Right Buttons

First-year manager Steve Cherundolo seems to be getting the hang of making the right substitutions at the right time. For example, Cherundolo sent Ismael Tajouri-Shradi into the match in the 66-minute.

Four minutes later, Palacios found him with a long ball up the left side of the field. Tajouri-Shradi managed to one-time a shot off the outside of his boot while falling backward from a tug by defender Graham Zusi. It was Palacios’s second assist of the match and gave LAFC a 2-1 lead.

“We maybe could have done something differently on the second goal in how we covered, but the one thing you can say is (Tajouri-Shradi) hit an absolute bomb,” Vermes said. “Sometimes it happens and unfortunately, it happened at that point. Tim (Melia) is not saving that and it’s not his fault.”

Jose Cifuentes also entered the match in the 66-minute. His impact came in the 78-minute. Cifuentes received a pass from Jesus Murillo approximately 35 yards out. Sporting’s defense didn’t seem to make an effort to close him down and Cinfuentes took advantage and slotted home the final nail in the match’s coffin.

Russell: Realistic but Confident as Sporting Kansas City Fall

After the match, Russell admitted the team was in a rough patch but expressed confidence they could get out of it. “It’s a difficult position we’re in but we just need to keep fighting and figure out a way to get out of this,” Russell said.

“The positive signs of the first half show us that we can come here against one of the better teams in the league and show what we can do. We need to tighten up and some of the goals we’re giving away are pretty soft, to be honest.”

Vermes has said the offense is usually the last piece to fall in place at the start of a season. When asked if something was missing or if it was a matter of time, Russell said,

“I feel it’s just a matter of time. We’re missing some players, haven’t had a consistent lineup, and haven’t been able to find ourselves in the attack yet. We’ve got too many quality players all over the field to not create chances or score goals.”

After the last home match, some fans expressed their displeasure with the team’s performance.

Sporting Kansas City Fall Once Again

Russell says the players feel it too. “I’ve got confidence in my teammates and myself that we’ll all come good, but it’s time to do it now,” Russell said.

“We can’t keep losing games. It’s a horrible position to be in and a horrible feeling after games. We have to turn it around and the good thing is we’ve got two home games coming up. So we need to go and take the first one. We have to go out there with everything we’ve got, fight for everything and come out with three points. No other result is good enough for us.”

SKC have lost five of their last six MLS season games. Their only win in those last six games came up against Real Salt Lake.

Up Next for SKC

Sporting return to Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, April 23, to face Columbus Crew SC. The kickoff is set for 7:30 pm ET. The match will air locally on KMCI-TV and will stream on SportingKC.com, the Sporting KC app, and ESPN+.

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