Sporting Kansas returns home this week for a pair of matches at Children’s Mercy Park, starting with Nashville SC on Wednesday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be available to stream on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV in English and Spanish. The match will also be available on the radio locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish), while tickets are available via SeatGeek.com.
1. THREE WINS OUT OF FOUR
Sporting Kansas City is making their move to get themselves into postseason contention as Peter Vermes’ squad has now won three of four matches coming out of the Leagues Cup break. Sporting claimed back-to-back home wins over San Jose and st. louis before bouncing back from a loss in Miami to defeat Minnesota 1-0 this past Saturday night.
Despite being under the cosh for much of the second half at Allianz Field, Sporting picked up all three points courtesy of Gadi Kinda’s expertly taken finish in the 84th minute of the contest. The game marked Sporting’s first 1-0 win in the regular-season this year and the team’s first game-winning goal after the 75th minute in 2023.
Having been assisted by Roger Espinoza for the game-winner, Kinda’s goal marked just the third time in club history two substitutes were responsible for the goal and the primary assist on a game-winning goal in the regular season. The only other occasions came on Oct. 3, 2015 in a 1-0 win at Portland (Nemeth goal, Zusi assist) and on May 9, 2021 in a 2-1 win vs. Austin (Kinda goal, Shelton assist). It’s also the first instance in MLS for more than a year dating back to Aug. 31, 2022.
Since the start of May, Sporting have gone 9-6-5 in MLS play and rank second in MLS with 36 goals scored (1.89 goals per match). The team went 0-7-3 and scored just three goals in its first 10 league matches through the end of April.
2. BIG HOME WEEK ON HORIZON
Sporting Kansas City returns home this week for a pair of pivotal matches that will define the club’s season one way or the other. First, Sporting plays host to Nashville SC at Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday night before Houston Dynamo FC pays a visit to Kansas City on Saturday night.
Both matchups provide their own quirks, as Nashville has not played a game since Sept. 2 and will come into Wednesday’s clash fully rested. Houston will surely have one eye on the U.S. Open Cup final which is set to take place just four days after they visit Children’s Mercy Park this Saturday.
Sporting has only faced Nashville three times in the past, going 2-1-0. Sporting won the inaugural match at Children’s Mercy Park 2-1 on Oct. 11, 2020 before Nashville earned some revenge with a 2-1 win of their own at CMP on April 9, 2022.
Sporting won the most recent showdown between the two sides - and the only one to take place in Nashville - on June 19, 2022 with a 2-1 win that shattered Nashville’s unbeaten start to life in brand new GEODIS Park. Nashville native Felipe Hernandez and Sporting icon Graham Zusi gave the visitors a 2-0 lead before Ake Loba pulled a goal back.
3. KINDA BAGS VITAL GOAL IN MINNESOTA
Sporting Kansas City Designated Player Gadi Kinda came off the bench to bag the game-winning goal during Saturday night’s 1-0 road victory over Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field.
With the game seemingly heading for a stalemate - something that would benefit Minnesota far more than Sporting - Kinda replaced Erik Thommy in the 70th minute and made his mark in the 84th minute, latching onto fellow sub Roger Espinoza’s pass and slotting beyond Dayne St. Clair to give his side a vital three points on the road.
Kinda, who had been battling an ankle injury the past few weeks, now has four goals and five assists across all competitions this season in just 977 minutes as he works back to full fitness following season-ending surgery in 2022.
Having tallied seven goal contributions (3g, 4a) in just 665 regular season minutes, Kinda ranks third in MLS this season in goals and assists per 90 minutes among players with at least 450 minutes played.
4. MELIA PRODUCES MAN OF THE MATCH PERFORMANCE
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia rolled back the years with a vintage performance on Saturday night, making four saves to preserve the clean sheet as Sporting earned a massive 1-0 win on the road against Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field.
Melia stood on his head throughout the 90 minutes and produced the pick of the bunch in the 74th minute when Teemu Pukki looked destined to give the hosts the lead with a seemingly open goal, only for Melia to spring to his right and block the Finnish forward’s effort and keep his side level. Gadi Kinda would score the game-winner just 10 minutes later.
Now in his ninth season with Sporting, Melia leads all goalkeepers in club history in regular-season wins (97), shutouts (66), saves (654) and games played (227). After starting the season 0-4-1, Melia has now gone 5-1-0 in his last six starts.
5. ESPINOZA OFF THE BENCH WITH GAME-WINNING ASSIST
Sporting Kansas City veteran and club icon Roger Espinoza produced a vintage assist to help Sporting to a huge 1-0 victory on the road against Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field on Saturday night.
Four minutes after replacing Nemanja Radoja for the closing stages of the match, Espinoza played a pin-point pass out to the right wing that picked out Gadi Kinda who eliminated his man before slotting home the only goal of the game in the 84th minute.
The assist was Espinoza’s 45th of his MLS regular-season career with Sporting KC, and his 49th in all competitions across 394 appearances. The Honduran is now tied with Chris Klein for third in regular-season assists in club history, only trailing Preki (98) and Graham Zusi (74).