WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With many of his friends and family in attendance, Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong sat on the bench, waiting for his chance.
The 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year started his team's opening night match at D.C. United on the bench. With Sporting KC enjoying a lion's share of possession, but failing to break down the home side's defense, Sapong was inserted in the game with 15 minutes to play.
"We were breaking them down all game, we were connecting passes, it was just that final pass and that final shot," Sapong said to reporters after the game.
Upon entering, Sapong, from nearby Manassas, Virginia, kept his cheering section on the edge of their seats until the 93rd minute, when he headed home a corner kick from Graham Zusi to give his team a dramatic 1-0 road victory.
“There's a bunch of tussling in there, especially at the end of the game like that,” Sapong said about his goal. “I just focused on getting away from my man and once the ball was hit, I just went for it.”
Scoring a game-winning goal so late is a special moment no matter where it takes place, but for Sapong – who attended college at James Madison University, a two hour's drive from D.C. - it was even sweeter to be able to do it so close to home.
“It was amazing, a dream come true,” he said. “To see all my friends and family in the stands cheering for me, to see people that are cheering for D.C. cheering for me, it's an amazing feeling.”
After a breakout season in 2011, which saw him earn his first two caps with the U.S. national team this January, the 23 year-old Sapong knows that 2012 can be a springboard to even bigger things.
“Coming off a pretty successful season that I had last year, I'm still hungry,” he said.
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