Football

DC United stun title rivals Sporting Kansas City

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DC United moved into pole position in the Supporters’ Shield standings with a 3-0 success at Eastern Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City.

The Black-and-Red breached Major League Soccer’s best defence three times in an incredible first half, scoring through Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe and Perry Kitchen.

This result saw yet another twist in an already thrilling title race, with Sporting the side replaced at the top of the division by the four-time champions.

Record

United had won the teams’ last encounter in June, but came into this clash following back-to-back losses on the road, and had been beaten on each of their previous four visits to Sporting Park.

The Wizards – until now defeated only once in league action in Kansas City all year – made the brighter start here, with form man Benny Feilhaber’s low drive fumbled away by Bill Hamid. The United States stopper then impressively repelled Graham Zusi and Soony Saad, before the latter unleashed a fierce strike off target.

First chance

A first chance for DCU fell to rookie Steve Birnbaum in the 23rd minute, but he nodded over from Espindola’s corner. However, the Argentine talisman was soon to break the deadlock.

Seemingly cornered by Aurelien Collin on the left touch-line, Espindola skipped away from the big defender, stepped inside and coolly side-footed into the far corner.

Incredibly, the lead was doubled before the hosts could muster a response. Luis Silva picked up a loose ball in the middle of midfield, and delayed long enough for Rolfe to run beyond his marker. A delicate dink set the 31-year-old away, with Jon Kempin only able to help the finish into the net.

Made it three

Three minutes later, Rolfe turned provider and the Black-and-Red added another, bringing jeers from the stunned home support. Kitchen sprung the offside trap with Seth Sinovic slacking, and took his time to rifle past Kempin for a sensational score-line at the half-hour mark.

While Sporting took control of the game, breaks from Silva and Espindola again threatened prior to the interval, and the first effort of the second period saw Rolfe shoot over.

Dismissing any challenge from their opponents, United were the width of a post away from a fourth in the 53rd minute. Nick DeLeon was sloppy in the execution of his original pass to Rolfe, but he picked up a ricochet to curl against the upright.

Peter Vermes’ men simply hadn’t learnt from their earlier struggles, as a perfectly-timed Rolfe run required Kempin to dash from his line and smartly smother.

At the other end, Zusi thought he’d finally managed a riposte, but instead thumped against the woodwork from 25 yards. A similar Saad attempt also came close, with the same player then blazing high into the stadium’s South Stand.

Dom Dwyer quiet

Dom Dwyer had been largely anonymous, and the 16-goal forward’s agile flick was excellently held by Hamid, 17 minutes from time. Espindola, meanwhile, had enjoyed a rather better evening, but lashed wildly at the opportunity to increase his tally.

Substitute David Estrada had an even clearer opening, as he profited on hesitant defending to prod straight at Kempin, though it mattered little with the Wizards’ interest in the match all but over.

There was time, however, for Estrada to volley against the post and fire wide, but with no danger to their goal in the closing stages, DCU were able to seal a famous triumph.

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Topics:
Football
Sporting Kansas City
MLS Eastern Conference
MLS
D.C. United

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