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 Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Beats San Jose 2-1

March 17, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Sporting Kansas City News Release

Sporting Kansas City (1-0-3, 6 points) overcame an early deficit to prevail 2-1 over the San Jose Earthquakes (0-4-0) on Saturday night at Children's Mercy Park.

Dany Rosero's thumping header in the 18th minute and Alan Pulido's go-ahead goal 11 minutes later sealed the comeback for a Sporting side that remained undefeated through four games in 2024 and condemned San Jose to its fourth straight defeat to open the campaign. Kansas City has now prevailed in 20 of its last 22 home meetings against the Earthquakes since 2004 while also delivering its longest unbeaten streak to start a regular season since 2017 (six matches).

Manager Peter Vermes' men will return to Children's Mercy Park next Saturday, March 23, for a marquee matchup with longtime rival LA Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the contest are available at

Center back Robert Voloder accounted for the lone change to Sporting's lineup from a 0-0 draw at LAFC last weekend, replacing injured defender Andreu Fontas for his first home start since June 10, 2023. Further up the field, captain Johnny Russell hit a major milestone with his 200th appearance for Sporting in all competitions and thus became the third MLS player to log 200 matches with multiple clubs worldwide, having played 203 times for Derby County in England from 2013-2018. Notable markers were also in store for Rosero-who made the 350th appearance of his club career-and midfielder Erik Thommy, who played his 50th regular season game in a Sporting uniform.

Seeking their first win in Kansas City since 2015, the Earthquakes began brightly and took the lead on 11 minutes. Sporting defender Jake Davis-making his 31st consecutive start in all competitions-slid in brilliantly to prevent a driven Preston Judd cross from reaching Amahl Pellegrino at the back post, but Cristian Espinoza's ensuing corner kick was bundled home by Vitor Costa at close range to quiet the Children's Mercy Park faithful and give Sporting its first deficit of the season.

Sporting's response was nothing short of superb. Earthquakes goalkeeper Daniel dove at full extension to repel a 22-yard bomb from Pulido in the 17th minute, but the hosts returned the favor on San Jose by cashing in on the corner kick that followed. Memo Rodriguez's in-swinging delivery was nodded into the roof of the net by a leaping Rosero, who has now bagged four of Sporting's seven headed goals since joining the club in early 2023. Rodriguez, meanwhile, tabbed his first assist in a Sporting uniform and the 17th of his MLS career.

Still unsatiated after pulling level, Sporting surged ahead just shy of the half-hour mark. A flowing attack into the final third saw Russell square up his marker on the right wing, play a sweet give-and-go with Davis and dink a pullback ball into the path of an unmarked Pulido, who opened his 2024 scoring account by smashing into the gaping net. Pulido, who last scored at Children's Mercy Park with a brace in a 2-1 win over St. Louis on Sept. 2, 2023, now ranks first in club history with 0.45 goals per match in the regular season (29 goals in 65 games).

An entertaining first half continued to ebb and flow with both sides showing attacking ambition. San Jose almost restored parity in the 37th minute, but Melia produced a fine save to cast aside Espinoza's well-struck free kick. Melia thwarted Espinoza once more by corralling a shot from the top of the box on the cusp of intermission.

Less than 30 seconds into the second half, San Jose went incredibly close to punishing a Sporting miscue as Pellegrino picked up a stray pass and attempted to round Melia one-on-one, only to see his shot saved heroically by Kansas City's in-form goalkeeper.

Sporting suffered a setback in the 53rd minute when Russell was forced to exit with an injury, summoning the arrival of substitute Stephen Afrifa. The swap came shortly before Salloi and San Jose's Jeremy Ebobisse saw their admirable long-range efforts go begging. Vermes' side then breathed a collective sigh of relief in the 70th minute when Ousseni Bouda's cross from the right wing deflected off the outstretched foot of Nemanja Radoja and into the thankful hands of Melia.

The final flashbulb moment of the night came with 82 minutes on the clock. The Earthquakes thought they had equalized on yet another set piece goal as Rodriguez fired high past Melia from the edge of the six-yard area. However, VAR Ian Anderson prompted referee Amin Hadzic to take a second look at the play, and the goal was rightly disallowed for a Vitor Costa handball after Espinoza swung a dangerous free kick into the crowded box.

The Earthquakes conjured one final scare four minutes into second-half stoppage time, but Benji Kikanovic's swiveling strike took a wicked deflection off Rosero and skipped marginally wide of the frame. Hadzic blew his full-time whistle two minutes later as Sporting secured its first victory of 2024 after opening the season with three ties.


Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

On the comeback...

I didn't like the goal we gave up, but we had a very good response. We lost too many balls in that first 10 minutes when they scored. But after we scored, all of a sudden, the game changed. We had a good mentality from that point of view. I think that we've had good preparation all through the week and we've been building up pretty well. As the game went on, we got better and better with the ball, and we created a lot of really good opportunities going forward. It was just that first 10 minutes. We gave up the ball way too much.

On the game-winning goal...

It was a beautiful goal. It's the kind of thing that you work on tirelessly and then when you see it happen like that, you're pretty pleased. When I turned around, the entire staff was like, "Now we're talking." It was a great goal. It was as if at those moments, through that sequence, they were chasing shadows, just because we were moving off the ball. Our timing was very good. The weight of the passes were great. Johnny (Russell) plays a good ball in and Alan (Pulido) always has a really good sense of finding that space for that kind of ball. It's a great finish by him.

On Johnny Russell's status...

I don't know yet, but he came out so I have to assume it's at least a first degree (hamstring strain). We will see.

On Remi Walter's performance...

I was trying to stretch the game as long as I could with Memo (Rodriguez), but Memo was a little bit tight. I made a decision that I wasn't going to take the chance, because he was playing. I didn't take him out for anything other than that. I didn't want to take a chance and have him now hurt something. That was just more me making that decision when I found out that he was a little bit tight in one of his muscles. If there's one thing you're always going to get from Remi, it's that you're going to get everything he has when he steps inside the field. He's a great team guy. He can play so many different positions there in the midfield and other places, too. He's got a great soccer mind for the game and a great IQ. He went in and helped us immensely when he came in.

On taking momentum into next weekend at home...

It is always really nice to play at home. It is really great to play in front of the home fans and try to take advantage of those points. I would say that we have had some really good results on the road as well. I mean we've played those first three games, all three teams were in the conference finals last year. Now, these guys were in the playoffs as well. So we've played a pretty good schedule up until now in regards to teams that have done well in the past year. We're going to come up against a team that has made a lot of changes with some really high-flying players for sure in LA. But we'll work and make sure that we're much better at starting the game than we were today.

On the performance of Dany Rosero...

Dany is a very powerful guy, inside the box especially. So him getting on the end of set pieces is something that we want to have happen and for him to get the goal tonight, he showed his power on that one for sure. The other thing is you have to remember Robert Voloder came in for (Andreu) Fontas, and I just told him 'listen, you have got to help him along in whatever moments happened in the game.' And I thought he was good in that regard with him. And then I also think that Robert, other than the play at the start of the second half where he thought he could just let it go back to Tim (Melia), other than that he played a really good game positionally. He was good and his concentration was good. The backline did a good job.

On the performance of Jake Davis...

I would probably comment on both outside backs. He and Tim (Leibold) were actually very good. Tim had a really big job today with (Cristian) Espinoza. Espinoza is one of the better wingers in the league. He's just a very, very good player. He's always dangerous with great service of the ball. He puts you under a lot of pressure when you play. And then on Jake's side, Jake had a different player that he had to deal with. Somebody who was a little bit more slippery; 6'3 as a winger, it's not normal. He did a good job as well and his timing on some situations where he read passes and stole them and put us onto the attack was good. I think both of those guys did a very good job.

On the insertion of Stephen Afrifa...

I think both him and Alenis (Vargas) were going to come into this game no matter what just because I knew how this game was going to go. I think for Stephen, each time he gets a chance to get inside the white lines, it's good experience for him because he's one of these players that needs to kind of get a little bit of a routine in the game. The other is that he needs to get up to speed with the game fitness of what it takes at this level. Sometimes it takes a little while. He was only with us for about six months last year, but now he's getting playing time and now he's starting to see what it's like in the pace of the game. He's getting there. Alenis is a little different. He's Honduran. Like Roger, he's got a little bit of that street smarts in the game. He's a really tough kid and you'll see a lot more from him because he's got something special, that kid.

Sporting KC defender Robert Voloder

On getting the start...

I felt pretty good. I was pretty comfortable. I was ready for the opportunity that I got. I was prepared. The coaching staff also prepared me. All in all, I think I did a pretty good job. Of course, here and there, one or two small mistakes, but I can work on that.

On the message from Peter...

We didn't particularly talk with me one on one, but like I said, I was getting ready no matter what. I definitely was able to play if I had to step up, and that's what I did.

On San Jose's attack...

It's always tough against tough, so you always try to do your best outside of the field. Our coaching staff prepares us for the game very well. I think even though Espinoza and all the other guys have a good reputation in the league, the back four did a pretty good job of holding them back.

On the leadership of Erik Thommy...

Erik Thommy is a good leader. So is Tim Leibold and everyone else. So, yeah, I'm in good hands.

On San Jose playing with two strikers...

I wouldn't say it threw anything off. I know me and (Dany) Rosero didn't play a lot of games together, but I think we managed to adapt pretty quickly to that. We communicated it right from the beginning, so we knew what we had to do in the game. We did a pretty good job of defending.

Sporting Kansas City forward Alan Pulido

Thoughts on the match...

I think we played good. The team knows how San Jose is playing the last couple matches. We were ready. We were very focused in this match. It is the second game at home and we won. This is the most important. Three points for us is amazing.

On his goal...

I think my goal is for the whole team. They made very good movements with the ball and without the ball. And for this, I was alone. I said to Dany Rosero a couple of minutes ago, I scored because all the team was moving and all the team was in the box and Daniel (Salloi) running to the first post. For this I try to go back for a score and I think it was an amazing pass and amazing plays for all the team. It's a fantastic goal. I was in a very good position for a score. But I'm more happy for the team and everybody's movements in the field.

On coming back...

We know that we are at home and this is why everybody looked to another player and said, 'we need to go faster, we need to go stronger' because I feel like another team pushed a little more than us. This is the team. After this, I think all the players played better. All the players wanted the ball and this is very important for us because we are a good team when we have the ball and we create a lot of chance from the movements. We scored two goals in the first half and for this the team won.

Sporting Kansas City is owned by Sporting Club, an entity comprised of local business and community leaders. Sporting prides itself on a commitment and vision to provide high-performance experiences. Sporting Club purchased the team from the Hunt Sports Group in 2006, and under its direction has launched Swope Soccer Village, Children's Mercy Park, Compass Minerals Sporting Fields, Compass Minerals National Performance Center and Central Bank Sporting Complex while investing in the Sporting KC Academy and Sporting Kansas City II for developing local youth into homegrown talent. A charter member of Major League Soccer, Sporting are two-time MLS Cup champions (2000, 2013) and four-time winners of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2004, 2012, 2015, 2017).

-- --

Rosero and Pulido score in comeback win

Sporting KC stays unbeaten with 2-1 comeback win over San Jose

Dany Rosero and Alan Pulido score first-half goals;

Sporting extends unbeaten start to four matches;

SKC back home next Saturday to host LA Galaxy

2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 4

Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

Attendance: 18,219

Weather: 56 degrees and clear

Score 1 2 F

Sporting Kansas City (1-0-3, 6 points) 2 0 2

San Jose Earthquakes (0-4-0, 0 points) 1 0 1

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Robert Voloder, Tim Leibold; Nemanja Radoja, Erik Thommy, Memo Rodriguez (Remi Walter 46'); Johnny Russell (C) (Stephen Afrifa 53'), Alan Pulido (Willy Agada 87'), Daniel Salloi (Alenis Vargas 88')

Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Zorhan Bassong, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Felipe Hernandez

San Jose Earthquakes: Daniel; Paul Marie (Thommy Thompson 85'), Bruno Wilson, Rodrigues, Vitor Costa; Cristian Espinoza, Jackson Yueill (C), Carlos Gruezo (Alfredo Morales 72'), Amahl Pellegrino (Jack Skahan 64'); Jeremy Ebobisse (Benji Kikanovic 63'), Preston Judd (Ousseni Bouda 64')

Subs Not Used: William Yarbrough, Tanner Beason, Daniel Munie, Michael Baldisimo

Scoring Summary:

SJ -- Vitor Costa 1 (Cristian Espinoza 1) 11'

SKC -- Dany Rosero 1 (Memo Rodriguez 1) 18'

SKC -- Alan Pulido 1 (Johnny Russell 1, Jake Davis 2) 29'

Misconduct Summary:

SKC -- Dany Rosero (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 35'

SJ -- Ousseni Bouda (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 66'

SJ -- Cristian Espinoza (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 81'

SKC -- Daniel Salloi (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 82'

SKC -- Erik Thommy (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 90+1'


Shots 5 13

Shots on Goal 3 6

Saves 5 1

Fouls 12 15

Offsides 1 1

Corner Kicks 3 5

Referee: Amin Hadzic

Assistant Referee: Hector Rueda

Assistant Referee: Shane Richards

Fourth Official: Dimitar Chavdarov

VAR: Ian Anderson

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