Saint Louis vs. Sporting Kansas City

KANSAS CITY – Saturday night, Sporting Kansas City returned to Children’s Mercy Park after their short outing at their temporary home in Arrowhead. Following a 3-2 loss to Lionel Messi and Inter Miami in front of over 70,000 fans, SKC looked to bounce back against a talented St. Louis team. The matchup marked the 6th meeting between the two franchises, with all of the previous coming last year in Saint Louis’ inaugural season. Both of the matches played at Children’s Mercy ended in 2-1 wins for Sporting and they hoped to repeat that.

The offense began early, as the trend has been for SKC, in the 17th minute with a goal from Alan Pulido. Pulido, alongside Willy Agada, was able to create a classic ‘back-and-forth’ maneuver creating an elite opportunity for Pulido, one he took advantage of.

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However, after the fast start for Kansas City momentum switched sides as Saint Louis made sure their one-goal performances ceased, scoring two. The first came in the 31st minute as João Klauss nailed a shot into the bottom right corner with his right foot, knotting the game up at one.

Seven minutes of stoppage time was allotted due to various and seemingly unceasing injury breaks. Halfway into that stoppage time, STL broke the one-goal curse as Célio Pompeu sailed a shot from outside of the box to the opposite corner, giving Saint Louis the lead heading into the half.

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The lead-up to both goals had no shortage of drama as contact seemed to play a huge role in creating the goal attempt. This was most explicit in the first of the two goals as Klauss, who stands at 6’ 3”, appeared to have obvious contact with SKC defender Dany Rosero, yet no whistle was heard.

Referee Allen Chapman earned himself a night of continuous criticism as he and his team appeared to allow a more aggressive game to be played. When asked how his club was to handle the aggressiveness, manager Peter Vermes said, “You gotta stop talking to the ref and start just running through guys. They run through you, you run through them. It’s really simple”. While the answer might be sarcastic it does show the amount of contact that was being allowed. The fans of Sporting KC didn’t enjoy the calls (or lack thereof) as they vocalized their frustration throughout the match. Members of the clubs, such as Erik Thommy, were extremely animated about the way the referees were calling the match.

Following halftime, the aggressiveness continued and emotions ran high. In the 63rd minute, Saint Louis’ Tim Parker was shown a yellow card for his aggressive defense and that emotional response gave Sporting just the momentum they needed. The ball ended up in possession of captain Daniel Salloi on the left wing as he cut around after a free kick from Johnny Russell. Salloi’s desperation shot was then deflected by STL Goalkeeper Roman Buerki. The deflection flew into the air with the perfect amount of spin and angle to tie up the game once again, this time on a recorded own goal.

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Even with the goal, the emotions of a rivalry game remained high. Jake Davis was awarded a yellow card in the 71st minute following even more excessive contact. Célio Pompeu, the scorer of STL’s second goal, let the crowd know by signaling a symbol with his hands, even before the card was officially given.

Kansas City got their revenge on the perceived taunt just moments later. In the 77th minute, Erik Thommy broke away with possession of the ball. As Tommy approached the goal at full speed he truly had the goalie and green grass ahead of him giving him an elite chance to break the tie. He entered the box on the left side and the ball ended in the right corner of the posts.

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Stoppage time plagued Kansas City in the first half and it was as if history repeated itself as Saint Louis’ Tomas Totland nailed in a shot following a corner kick to knot up the match one more time at three. Only three minutes of stoppage time was allotted and that’s all Saint Louis needed. That’s where the score ended, in a 3-3 tie and another disappointing finish for SKC.

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Saint Louis now receives a full fortnight of rest as their next match will not be played until the fourth of May. That match will be played against the Houston Dynamo (4-1-3) who have been on a hot streak of late, winning four of their last six matches. On the other hand, Kansas City will head to Minnesota on April 27th for a matchup with the United (3-2-2).

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