High scoring match favors the visitors.The storylines were numerous when Chivas USA confronted Sporting Kansas City, but the happy ending belonged to Kansas City with a 3-2 victory.
Chivas USA captain Jimmy Conrad played against his former team, while Sporting Kansas City’s new designated player, Omar Bravo, was playing against the organization that made him famous, though it was Chivas Guadalajara, the team in Mexico, on which Bravo played.
The turnover on the Chivas USA squad and the system change under new coach Robin Fraser showed from the start with slight miscues. Kansas City quickly took advantage. When Ben Zemanski failed to clear a freekick in the second minute, CJ Sapong pounced, evading one defender and rifling a shot to the back of the net.
The goal forced Chivas USA to attack vigorously, and yet Kansas City, with the athletic Sapong and Kei Kamara, threatened repeatedly on the counterattack.
In an interesting twist, both the captains of the respective squads earned yellow cards within five minutes of each other in the first half. Davey Arnaud earned his for a foul in the 23rd minute, while Jimmy Conrad pulled down Sapong in the 27th and saw yellow.
As the end of half neared, Chivas USA fought to equalize, but it turned out to be Sporting KC who was deadly on the counter. A long pass from Kamara found Sapong, who sidefooted the ball quickly to Bravo, whose run left him only with goalkeeper Thornton to beat. With one touch, the Mexican international produced a delicate chip that arced over the goalkeeper and then dipped under the crossbar. He celebrated with folded hands raised to the sky.
Chivas brought energy and effort to the second half, and it paid off quickly. In the 56th minute, as the ball bounced free in the box from a corner kick, it was Conrad who reacted first and kicked it into the net.
However, Bravo had another moment of magic to give Kansas City more breathing room in the 56th minute. Again, Kamara was the instigator of the opportunity, jumping high to bring down a pass and knocking the ball to Bravo. As Thornton came out to block the shot, Bravo dinked the ball with the outside of his foot, putting it just past the reach of the keeper and inside the far post.
With the loyal fans of Chivas USA cheering them on, the squad produced a gritty performance, rallying to repeatedly attack the Kansas City goal, though the defense kept them at bay.
On the other end, Thornton produced two sterling saves - one on Milos Stojchev and another on Bravo, to keep the deficit manageable.
The passion in the match was evident when Bravo came in hard with a shoulder on Conrad, earning a yellow card of his own.
A moment of redemption came in the 84th, when Zemanski, moving forward on a set play, knocked in a Nick LaBrocca pass for Chivas USA’s second goal. It was the midfielder’s first league goal.
With a draw within reach, the end of the match was tight, but the veteran leadership of Kansas City made sure of the result, giving the squad a positive start to their season-opening ten-game road trip. The acquisition and investment in Bravo certainly appears to be a sound choice.
Chivas USA, meanwhile, will look to regroup and find a way to get the strikers on the scoreboard.
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