Goals from Jonny Steele, Fabian Espindola and Lloyd Sam elevated the New York Red Bulls to first place in the Eastern Conference and a thrilling 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City in front of a sold out crowd of 21,304 at Sporting Park Saturday.
The Red Bulls were able to withstand late pressure from the hosts, which led the East by one point entering the match, to earn their third win against a conference leader in the past four games. New York now finds itself atop the Eastern Conference with 38 points off a 11-7-5 record ahead of second place Sporting Kansas City (10-7-6, 36 points).
Sporting Kansas City exerted pressure on New York early and in the 12th minute, Kei Kamara found space on the left side of the field and slid it to Benny Feilhaber, whose on target attempt was parried by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles. On the other end, New York nearly caught the hosts on the counterattack two minutes later when Thierry Henry drove down the right wing and crossed it to an open Steele. Steele’s first-time attempt was blocked though by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
New York took the lead in the 27th minute and Steele made no mistake with his second opportunity. McCarty had possession in the middle of the field and played a perfect through ball to Steele. Steele was able to dribble in the box and fired it near post past Nielsen.
However, Sporting KC equalized right before halftime. Minutes after Claudio Bieler nodded it over the bar from close range, Sonny Saad’s header off a Chance Myers cross was saved by Robles. However, Kamara was first to the rebound and knocked it home.
The Red Bulls regained the lead in the 63rd minute. Sam received the ball on the right wing and played it through to an onside Espindola. Espindola took the ball into the box and curled it with his left foot into the bottom corner of the net.
The visitors doubled their advantage six minutes later on a terrific counterattack started by a Robles long throw to an open Steele on the left wing. Steele raced down the sideline and found Sam with space in Sporting’s defensive end. The Englishman cut back to his left foot and put it home for his second goal of the year.
Sporting KC pulled one back to make the score 3-2 in the second minute of stoppage time, as Dom Dwyer headed in a Kamara cross. However, despite pressure from the hosts, the Red Bulls held on and left Sporting Park with three points.