Sporting Kansas City grabbed a 2-0 win at the LA Galaxy on Sunday evening, riding first goals of the season from forwards Johnny Russell and Khiry Shelton to close out July 4th weekend across MLS in style.
Russell tallied in the 81st minute via a looping header, reacting quickly after Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond saved his initial shot. Felipe Hernandez pressured Adam Saldana in a battle of homegrown midfielders, then Sporting’s captain sprung to life to start the late surge.
Shelton then iced the game in the 95th minute on a breakaway, rounding Bond before tapping into the empty net. The Galaxy flooded numbers in search of an equalizer, and Shelton capitalized on the counter-attack.
Just before Russell scored, Sporting nearly opened the scoring in the 80th minute when Roger Espinoza flicked on a Gianluca Busio free kick. Espinoza’s header forced Bond into a strong save, then Andreu Fontas’ back-post header flashed square off the post.
The Galaxy dictated one-way traffic during the first half, outshooting Sporting 9-1. But left winger Samuel Grandsir and attacking midfielder Victor Vazquez, LA’s two liveliest players, did everything but apply the finishing touch.
Part of LA’s frustrations could be attributed to solid goalkeeping from Tim Melia, who registered five saves during the first half. None was bigger than a double-save in the 34th minute, first keeping out a long-range blast from Vazquez and then doing just enough to keep out Grandsir’s follow-up effort, which trickled off the post for a corner kick.
LA had another great bid in the 31st minute, though Kevin Cabral’s header off Vazquez’s cross steered just wide of the post. And when a pinball-like sequence bounced out to midfielder Sebastian Lletget in the 65th minute, an outstretched leg from Sporting center back Ilie Sanchez was just enough to deflect wide a fizzing volley.
The Galaxy suffered an injury concern late in the first half, with center back Sega Coulibaly exiting in the 40th minute with a muscular injury. They dropped midfielder Rayan Raveloson onto the backline, throwing the Madagascar international a curveball during his MLS debut.
LA lacked the clinical touch, perhaps attributed to leading scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez being a late scratch to the lineup as a precautionary measure due to a calf issue. That put Ethan Zubak into the No. 9 role.
To be fair, Sporting were missing their star striker as well. Alan Pulido is recovering from a foot laceration he suffered in Week 10, which put Shelton centrally as a result.
- 81' – SKC – Johnny Russell
- 90'+5' – SKC – Khiry Shelton