Sporting Kansas City saw their six-game unbeaten streak end with a late 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact on Saturday night at Stade Saputo. Despite the defeat, Sporting KC maintains a one-point lead atop the Eastern Conference and trail Real Salt Lake by a single point in the Supporters’ Shield race.
Saturday’s clash between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference saw a combined 38 fouls whistled, second most in an MLS match this season, and five yellow cards handed out. Sporting Kansas City was without central defenders Matt Besler (international duty) and Aurelien Collin (suspension), starting an MLS match without either All-Star in the lineup for the first time since 2010.
Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made three saves on the night, including a stop on a Sanna Nyassi breakaway in the 20th minute. The play began when Justin Mapp picked the ball up deep in Montreal territory and pushed forward toward Sporting KC’s defensive third. The veteran midfielder picked out Nyassi behind the defense, but Nielsen stood tall and swatted away the Gambian winger’s attempt.
Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins re-paid the favor in the 52nd minute when he got his finger tips on a Claudio Bieler attempt that appeared destined for the upper corner. Bieler’s attempt resulted from a Graham Zusi free kick that Ike Opara headed toward the penalty spot. The Argentine striker nearly bounced the ball into the right-hand corner of the net but Perkins reacted quickly to knock the ball away for a corner kick.
Bieler was in the thick of the action again in the 63rd minute when he got on the end of a Benny Feilhaber cross into the box. Center back Hassoun Camara was positioned well, however and deflected Bieler’s strike. Moments later, Soony Saad tested Perkins with a 30-yard strike but the goalkeeper tipped the ball away from the near post to keep the visitors off the board.
In a game that appeared destined to end in a scoreless draw, the Montreal Impact found the game-winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Marco Di Vaio picked out Blake Smith on the left side of the penalty box and the rookie midfielder slotted the ball past Nielsen to give the home side three points.
One week after Sporting Kansas City scored the latest goal in club history to win 2-1 on the road at Real Salt Lake with Ike Opara’s header in the 97th minute, the team conceded the latest goal in team history on Saturday with Smith’s 96th minute game-winner. Sporting Kansas City was held scoreless for the first time in 11 MLS matches and lost on the road for the first time since April 20th, ending a five-game unbeaten streak away from home.
Sporting Kansas City returns home for a busy week starting with the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday night at Sporting Park. Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin will participate in the match and Manager Peter Vermes will lead the squad against Italy’s AS Roma.