Sporting Kansas City defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 0-0 (4-2) in penalties at Children’s Mercy Park to advance to the next round of the 2023 Major League Soccer playoffs.
The Wild Card match saw a dominant Kansas City take control from very early on, dancing through the opponent’s backline to manage an overall 18 shots and four on goal with 60 percent possession. Captain Johnny Russell led the way, attempting to rocket the ball into the net from all angels before falling shot.
The Earthquakes couldn’t keep up, struggling to get past the midfield. The visiting team recorded a shocking zero shots on goal in 97 minutes of action, as head coach Luchi Gonzales made penalty-specific substitutions in a bid to reach the next phase of the playoffs. But his strategy was to no avail.
After Russell scored the first penalty of the night, Cristian Espinoza followed with a weak strike to the right side for goalkeeper Tim Melia to save. Though Alan Pulido then missed for SKC, providing the visiting side a chance to equalize the score, Jackson Yueill sent his strike to the stands.
After Erik Thommy and Gadi Kinda scored, Daniel Salloi stepped up to score the final penalty of the net and send fans into a frenzy. The stadium exploded into cheers, as the players gathered in front of fans to celebrate the Wild Card victory.
Sporting KC will now face St. Louis CITY on Sunday in Missouri for the first match of the best-of-three series.
GK: Tim Melia – 10/10 – Made the necessary saves throughout regular time before stopping a couple penalties. Nothing more to ask of a goalkeeper.
RB: Jacob Davis- 8/10 – Saw a couple good clearances to avoid any threatening situations.
CB: Andreu Fontàs- 7/10 – Handed the Earthquakes’ frontline well. Fullfilled.
CB: Daniel Rosero- 7/10 – No remarkable moments, but held the backline well.
LB: Logan Ndenbe – 7/10 – Failed to impress, but didn’t hinder.
CM: Erik Thommy – 8/10 – Constantly active throughout the field. Showcased creativity when on the ball. Scored his penalty.
CM: Nemanja Radoja – 7/10 – No real impact.
CM: Rémi Walter – 7/10 – Decent defensive work in the midfield, but failed to inspire when pushing forward.
RW: Johnny Russell- 9/10 – A phenomenal force, constantly testing goalkeeper Daniel. Unlucky not to get the opening goal in the first half before hitting the pole on another try. The most active player in both offenses.
ST: Alan Pulido- 6.5/10 – Started off strong before losing potency late in the second half. Also missed a penalty. Not a great night for the player given his potential.
LW: Dániel Sallói – 8/10 – A decent showing, especially in the first half. Saw a couple shots miss the goal slightly but scored the winning penalty.
CM: Gadi Kinda (68′ for Walter) – 10/10 – Came in to attack well and scored his penalty.
CM: Roger Espinoza (89′ for Radoja) -N/A
Peter Vermes – 8/10 – Managed the starting line up and substitutions well, quite unlucky not to get the 1-0 but handled the game accordingly.
GK: Daniel – 9/10 – Made a phenomenal save in the second half, after fending off a couple opportunities early on. Saved a penalty.
RB: Paul Marie – 6/10 – Weakened the defense.
CB: Carlos Akapo- 8/10 – Held the backline together by making several crucial clearances. Scored his penalty.
CB: Carlos Gruezo – 8/10 – Decent defending all around, present when needed.
LB: Jonathan – 7/10 – Could’ve done better when pushing forward, lacked the force this game craved.
CM: Jamiro Monteiro – 6/10 – No real impact.
CM: Rodrigues – 8/10 – Completed a spectacular save to avoid the opening goal, otherwise good.
CM: Jackson Yueill – 7/10 – Lacked the attacking force we’ve seen in previous games.
RW: Jeremy Ebobisse – 8/10 – Solid in transition, but failed to inspire in front of the goal. Did well though to support the midfield when necessary defensively.
ST: Cristian Espinoza – 6/10 – Did not live up to his potential. We’ve seen him be a force to be reckoned with and instead he was quiet. Also missed his penalty.
LW: Matthew Hoppe- 7/10 – Not the impact San Jose needed, 0 shots in 59 minutes is not enough.
ST: Cade Cowell (59′ for Hoppe) – 8/10 – Came in to revolutionize the attack. The energy SJ needed from the beginning.
LB: Miguel Trauco (77′ for Marie) – 7/10 – An odd change, but did fine.
CM: Jack Skahan (77′ for Ebobisse) – 10/10 – Scored penalty.
CM: Niko Tsakiris (85′ for Monteiro) – N/A
CM: Judson (85′ for Gruezo) -N/A
Luchi Gonzalez – 4/10 – Questionable changes to the starting 11 that were reflected by 0 shots on goal in over 75 minutes of action. Then made penalty-specific substitutions that didn’t work out. A bad night all around.