Two teams heading in opposite directions met in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
Sporting Kansas City has spent most of the season as among the top teams in the Western Conference, while LAFC has been playing catchup in a race for playoff positioning. When 90 minutes were up at Banc of California Stadium, Kansas City showed why they are indeed one of the top teams in the Conference, and in MLS. Kansas City got goals from Alan Pulido, Luis Martins, Daniel Salloi and Khiry Shelton, and Kansas City had a shockingly easy time with LAFC in its 4-1 win.
“Kansas City started fast,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “Closed things down. Closed our midfield down, so the early parts of the game, you know, there’s some little half-moments for both teams but it’s not a game where we were able to get any control.”
The win was huge for Sporting Kansas City, as they find themselves tied with the Seattle Sounders for first place in the Western Conference. LAFC however now find themselves tied for fifth with Minnesota United.
It took a while for Kansas City to get going, but once they did, there was no stopping them. SKC opened the scoring in the 20th minute, as Khiry Shelton had a break on goal, which drew out keeper Tomas Romero. The two collided as the ball was cleared away initially, but Pulido swooped in and buried the empty net shot, but the celebration was muted for a while, as Shelton was attended to for a potential head injury, but ultimately was able to continue.
Kansas City opened the floodgates from there. Goal number for Sporting two came nine minutes later, as Luis Martins played Daniel Salloi into the penalty area, Salloi just managed to get a cross off before the end line and Martins came in and shot a ball outside the six-yard box that was out of Romero’s reach at the far post to widen the lead. Salloi got on the scoresheet himself in the 36th minute, as Shelton played a ball wide right to Graham Zusi, who then crossed into the penalty area and Salloi one-timed a shot that beat Romero far post and just like that, Sporting Kansas City was up 3-0. Kansas City did not let up in the second half, as Zusi again crossed into the penalty area and Shelton was the beneficiary, as he headed a ball past Romero far post. Only a goal by Danny Musovski in the 82nd minute prevented LAFC from getting shut out.
“I just tried to put myself in good positions to score and be dangerous,” Musovski said. “That’s my job is to score goals and create chances for the team, whether it’s a goal or an assist. That’s what I was trying to do when I went in, luckily I was able to get one but the result is disappointing.”
LAFC was already behind the eight ball, especially in the backline, as LAFC had to go without Jesus David Murillo and Eddie Segura, who was lost for the season after undergoing surgery on his ACL. Reinforcements are on the way for LAFC, particularly on offense, as the team earlier in the week signed Colombian forward Cristian Arango from Millonarios. Still, the two losses on defense were hard to swallow for LAFC.
“Eddie and Murillo are good players, important players, but we have defended well as a team all year, so there’s no excuses,” Bradley said.
Things won’t get any easier for LAFC, as they will not play its next three matches on the road, starting this Sunday when they head up north to face the San Jose Earthquakes.