Claudio Bieler’s fourth goal of the season late in the match was the difference as Sporting Kansas City defeated D.C. United 1-0 last night at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. A dreadful error by D.C. United midfielder Marcos Sanchez in the 88th minute proved costly as his under weighted pass under pressure from Sporting attackers fell short of Marcelo Saragosa. Soony Saad ghosted in and poked the ball through Saragosa’s legs right at the end line. Saad’s left-footed cross hit Bieler in stride and gave United goalkeeper Bill Hamid no chance.
United certainly defended well enough to come out of the match with a second consecutive road 0-0 draw but once again the Black-and-Red offered very little in attack with only one shot on goal by Perry Kitchen being registered on the evening. United (1-3-1 4 points) has been shutout in all three road matches to begin the season and will have to find an answer offensively before they welcome their rivals New York Red Bull into town next Saturday evening.
United was missing team captain Dwayne De Rosario and Nick DeLeon through injury but head coach Ben Olsen started a surprisingly offensive lineup considering United’s poor fortunes on the road so far this season. Olsen could have opted for his preferred 4-5-1 formation and inserted Saragosa into the starting lineup but came out with Raphael Augosto getting his first ever MLS regular season start. Brazilian striker Rafael started up top alongside Lionard Pajoy but the were ineffective as a pair for most of their time on the field.
United struggled to maintain possession against Sporting’s high pressure for most of the match but was pretty sound defensively only giving up a weak effort from C.J. Sapong late in the first half. Both teams struggled to put together quality scoring chances but the home side definitely carried the play for most of the match. Just when it was looking like United was going to earn a hard fought point, Sanchez’ inability to simply clear the ball initially set in motion the game-winning sequence. It’s second time in just over a year that Sporting has taken a win at the death of a match. In United’s season opener in March of 2012, Sapong scored on a header from a corner kick on the last touch of the match.
United must now somehow pick themselves up and prepare for Red Bull next weekend.