Sporting Kansas City rocked up to CITYPARK and obliterated St Louis CITY 4-1 in game one of their MLS Cup playoffs best-of-three series, taking a 1-0 series lead back to Children’s Mercy Park for game two.
SKC seem to have caught fire at the perfect time in the postseason, but not many were expecting the performance they put in on Sunday night. St Louis, having clinched the number one seed spot in the Western Conference in their first season in MLS, had high expectations leading up to the game as it was the first ever playoff game in club history.
But Kansas City had other ideas. Left-back Logan Ndenbe put SKC on the board first with a sizzling strike from distance that left Roman Bürki scrambling to attempt to make a save. St Louis answered, though, as Tim Parker fired home from close range off a corner to level the game at one apiece just one minute later.
The home side’s equalizer didn’t faze Kansas City. Remi Walter got on in the act with a low-driven strike that Bürki was unable to get to, as the visitors were back in front with roughly 10 minutes to go in the first half. Three minutes later, Gadi Kinda score a goal as beautiful as Ndenbe’s, curling it in from just outside the box on the brink of half time.
The St Louis supporters at CITYPARK were in disbelief, while the traveling SKC fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing and were filled with joy. Longtime forward Daniel Salloi scored the fourth and final goal on the night for Kansas City with a tap-in finish at the back post that Alan Pulido headed on in his path.
“I think from the opening whistle, we were knocking on the door. We had some very good counters. We were maybe just off with the final pass or maybe we should have passed it somewhere else,” SKC head coach Peter Vermes said after the game.
“But we had the actions in us. The goals were tremendous goals against that goalkeeper too because I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I think he is a fantastic goalkeeper. He has done well all season. But those were just really, really good goals by us in today’s game.”
Vermes explained that his team has built up a strong mentality after the horrendous start to the regular season where they were unable to win any of their first 10 league games.
“It was a difficult game just us getting into it, coming off that emotional high [against San Jose Earthquakes], and we were trying to weather the storm. We suffered a lot in that game,” he added.
“The fact that we now have got to come here [to play St Louis]. We have got to play a team that has had good rest and hasn’t gone through that emotional roller coaster. They’ve known they’ve been in for quite some time. It was a big performance by our guys.”
Kansas City returns to their home ground with a 1-0 lead over the Western Conference leaders and could see them out of the playoffs with a win on November 5.
“That’s a very good team we played tonight. There’s a reason why they’re in first place in the west. When you do it consistently over the course of the season, it means a lot to a team and they’re very good. They have great commitment in the group and they have some real dangerous players within their team. Obviously, we have got a game coming up and we have to look at it it’s just the next game. We have got to try to win that game. That’s the only way to look at it.”
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