Sporting KC Draws D.C. United 1-1 At RFK Stadium

By: Sporting, posted by Kinch O'Kelley
By: Sporting, posted by Kinch O'Kelley

(May 19, 2013) - Sporting Kansas City drew 1-1 with D.C. United on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium. Sporting KC took the lead through an Ethan White own goal in the 60th minute but D.C. United responded with an equalizer from Kyle Porter five minutes later to split the points.

Sporting Kansas City started strong, with a run from Graham Zusi causing problems for the D.C. United backline in the game's opening minute. He turned the corner past Daniel Woolard and nearly connected with Jacob Peterson on a pass inside the six-yard box at the near post.

D.C. United recorded their first chance of the match in the 10th minute when midfielder Nick DeLeon took an attempt from long-range, but goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen rose to the challenge and punched it out for a corner kick.

The home side fired back again with a notable chance in the 26th minute when Tyler Kemp, in his MLS debut, charged down the left flank and whipped in a low shot to the near post that Nielsen once again deflected.

Controversy came in the 30th minute when Ike Opara was ruled offside and his goal disallowed. Matt Besler had cut the ball back from the endline for Jacob Peterson, who slipped a pass first-time to Opara at the back post. Opara hammered home his shot from close range to finish the superb sequence but assistant referee Matthew Nelson raised his flag and referee Jair Marrufo called the goal off despite four D.C. United players -- Bill Hamid, Kyle Porter, Dejan Jakovic and Ethan White -- positioned behind or even with Opara at the time of Peterson's pass.

D.C. United nearly went up a goal in the 36th minute when veteran midfielder Dwayne De Rosario fired a low, angled shot from the top of the box that barely missed the far post. Two minutes later, Zusi whipped in a dangerous shot on target that Hamid blocked expertly with his body.

In the dying minutes of the first half, De Rosario threatened again, this time with a slick header that floated just over the crossbar.

Sporting Kansas City broke the deadlock in the 60th minute of play on a corner kick from Zusi. Opara beat his mark and rose high for the header, re-directing the service at the near post. In short succession, the ball deflected off White's head and past Hamid for the own goal.

Five minutes later, D.C. United equalized with a goal from Porter. Second-half substitute Chris Pontius played a pinpoint cross from the left flank to Porter at the far post and the Canadian international's sliding volley tucked inside the post to level the score at 1-1.

Sporting KC nearly claimed a second goal in the 77th minute of play when Zusi whipped in a cross to the crowded box, where it was pinballed around from Opara to Kei Kamara and nearly sent in past Hamid.

A minute later, Porter almost notched his second goal of the game when he settled a cross from De Rosario and struck a dangerous ball that was blocked by Nielsen.

The action continued three minutes later when Zusi played the ball to a wideopen Bieler at the top of the box. His one-touch strike was expertly saved by Hamid, who pushed it inches wide of the right post.

Kamara came close to scoring his first goal of the season in the final minutes of the match. In the 90th minute, the Sierra Leone international fired a left-footed shot at the edge of the box that nearly slipped through Hamid's fingers. Two minutes into stoppage time, he flicked in a header that glanced past the near post.

Sporting Kansas City will return home to host the Houston Dynamo at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, May 26 at Sporting Park. Tickets are available in limited supply through Ticketmaster and Sporting Park Box Offices.

FAST FACTS

With the draw, Sporting Kansas City moves into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference behind only the New York Red Bulls.
Sporting KC is now 6-4-3 in 2013 and 3-2-2 on the road.
Sporting Kansas City is 218-210-112 all-time and 74-133-64 all-time away from home.
Sporting Kansas City's record against D.C. United moves to 19-18-10 all-time and 6-12-5 on the road in the series.
Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in their last six matches against D.C. United. Prior to Sunday's draw, Sporting Kansas City had won their last five matches in the series.
D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen earned his first point against Sporting KC and is now 0-5-1 all-time against the club.
D.C. United (1-8-1) is winless since their home opener on March 9. With the draw, D.C. United breaks a seven-game losing streak, the longest in team history and seventh longest in MLS history.
Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the starting lineup from last Sunday's 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Benny Feilhaber started the match in place of Oriol Rosell and Matt Besler was on for Aurelien Collin.
Rosell and Collin missed the match due to yellow card accumulation. Sunday marked the first time that Rosell and Collin have not started during the 2013 season.
Matt Besler and Ike Opara played their first competitive minutes together in central defense on Sunday.
D.C. United made three changes to their starting XI from last weekend's 2-1 loss at FC Dallas Stadium, including Bill Hamid returning in net to replace Joe Willis. Daniel Woolard started for James Riley and Taylor Kemp started in place of Raphael Augusto.
Taylor Kemp made his professional debut on Sunday, playing the first 45 minutes of the match before being replaced by Chris Pontius for D.C. United.
Chris Korb and Perry Kitchen have started all 11 games for D.C. United this season.
Sporting Kansas City took the 1-0 lead on an own goal by D.C. United in the 60th minute of the match. It was the first own goal in a Sporting KC match in 2013.
The goal came from a Graham Zusi corner kick and is the second goal Sporting KC has scored this season off a corner kick.
All 15 of Sporting Kansas City's goals in 2013 have come from inside the penalty area.
D.C. United earned their first point of the season when conceding the first goal. Prior to Sunday, the team was 0-8-0 when allowing the game's opening goal.
D.C. United have given up 20 goals this season, most in MLS. Twelve of the 20 goals conceded have come at home, which is also a League high.
D.C. United equalized five minute later on a goal from Kyle Porter assisted by Chris Pontius.
The goal was the latest D.C. United has scored in a match this season. Five of the team's six goals in 2013 have come at RFK Stadium.
Sporting KC is 5-2-2 when wearing Sporting Blue and 5-1-3 versus the Eastern Conference in 2013.
Jimmy Nielsen has appeared in 74 straight MLS matches, including postseason, for Sporting Kansas City, dating back to June 12, 2011. The streak covers a span of 6,660 straight minutes of MLS action.
Jimmy Nielsen surpassed 10,000 minutes played with the club on Sunday (including playoffs). Nielsen becomes the second player on the active roster to surpass this milestone in a KC uniform.
Seth Sinovic surpassed 7,000 regular season minutes played in his MLS career on Sunday.
Sporting Kansas City outshot D.C. United 14-7. Sporting KC is 5-3-3 when outshooting an opponent this season.
Sporting KC controlled 59% of the possession on Sunday and won 60% of the duels.
Sporting Kansas City earned 12 corner kicks on Sunday, most in a single-match this season for the club.
Graham Zusi took 11 of the 12 corner kicks. Zusi leads the League in corner kicks with 60.
Zusi made 18 total crosses in the match, more than any other player on the field.
Sporting Kansas City leads MLS in fouls suffered this season, but suffered a season-low nine fouls on Sunday.
Sporting KC leads MLS all-time in shots with 7,374 and ranks first in MLS this season with 182 shots.
Sporting Kansas City has allowed the fewest shots among all MLS teams this year with 109 shots against.
Matt Besler returned to the starting lineup for the first time since April 27, 2013 after suffering a knee injury at training.
Besler made 16 clearances in the match, more than any other player on the field and won seven of his nine aerial duels, also more than any other player in Sunday's match.
Besler and Seth Sinovic each had 76 touches in tonight's match, tied for most of all players.
D.C. United was without Young Designated Player Rafael due to concussion symptoms.
The Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park hosted a Watch Party for Sunday's match. Sporting KC striker Soony Saad was in attendance to meet supporters.
Forward Dom Dwyer, on loan from Sporting KC, scored two goals for Orlando City on Friday in a 2-2 draw at Harrisburg. Dwyer set the team record with 12 goals so far this season, most in USL PRO.

QUOTES

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes
On Ike Opara's disallowed goal, which was ruled offside:
"It's a big mistake. It's a major mistake. There's at least three guys that keep him onside, right? I don't know what [the assistant referee] is thinking then. I just don't know. So, it's a big mistake, but what are you going to do? The good thing for us is, I thought we controlled the game. [D.C. United] scored a good goal. We could have been a little bit better on the service. We didn't get out fast enough and the ball was too long in the air, but outside of that, they really never threatened us. I thought we did a good job in a lot of areas of the game and then we created a lot of chances. You gotta give credit to [Bill] Hamid because he made some very good saves. The one he makes off Claudio [Bieler] down low to his left - that's a pure goal right there and he came up with a great save, so you gotta him give credit there. Our consistency is really now starting to come and that's a great quality to have within your team. And I feel good about that aspect."

On how Opara has added to the team:
"Very good. I think he's been a good addition to our team, for a number of reasons. But more importantly, he's adaptedquickly and has given us a look that we need, especially with the three competitions we're playing this year."

On what makes Opara a quality player:
"It's fantastic. It's not even experience - he has qualities that, his recovery speed to get back and cover a guy, his aerial presence is absolutely incredible. It's dominant. So, [he's] a great addition to our team."

On how Opara has fit into Sporting Kansas City's style of play:
"[Understanding the system] is a big key, right? That's one. The other is, there are certain aspects that we expect from our central defenders and [Opara] has adapted very quickly. He's extremely coachable and that's going to bode really well for him as he goes forward."

Sporting Kansas City defender Ike Opara
On his play:
"I did well. I mean, obviously, we wanted to win as a team so that kind of limits anyone's performance. I don't know, we got a point, and we'll move forward."

On D.C. United's own goal:
"I finally got free off of my mark, I don't know how many times a referee can see us getting grabbed before they call a PK, but finally I got free and I just attacked it and fortunately for me it hit off of one of their defenders. They gave him the credit for the own goal. Whatever, it went in. It hit me first. And then hit one of their guys, I guess, afterwards."

On if the own goal made up for his goal that was called offside:
"Well, it would have been redemption if they would've gave it to me, but they gave it an own goal. I mean, obviously I would've liked to have gotten that first goal. Obviously it was called offside, and that changes the game big time. We would've [gone] into the half with the lead and we go from there. Then [we] go about the second half in a different way."

On if he had gotten an explanation on the offside call:
"Well I scored the goal, and you know, their whole team is always gonna yell for offside in that instance. But when I look up there weren't as many as two guys yelling who were ahead of me. So, I felt there was no way I'm offside and I look over and he's holding his flag up. After the game, I just asked him, 'Was I offside?' He said, 'I haven't seen the replay yet, so we'll see.' I said, 'Alright. Fair enough.' I hadn't seen the replay until now, or, I hadn't heard about it until now. Unfortunately I think he's going to be disappointed by his decision. But it's a mistake, they happen, and the game's over. We'll move forward."

On getting a couple of consecutive starts:
"Obviously, I was biding my time and I finally got a little bit of a breakthrough, and I would show them-well, the coaching staff, I had their full trust to begin with. I think, for me, it was finally just getting thatwindow of opportunity and making sure I do well with it. I've had a good string so far and hopefully it continues."

On playing alongside Matt Besler:
"He's defender of the year. I mean, he's a guy that, you know, for me, when I play in place of him or [Aurelien] Collin or whatever, I know that team is most likely going to think of me as a weak link. Or maybe because I'm not so much proven [as] these guys. But for me it's a challenge to raise my level to their level and be just as good as them on the day. That's what I take pride in. So if a team wants to bring it towards me, then I'm all for it."

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi
On teammate Ike Opara's play:
"I think Ike [Opara], the past three or four games, whenever he came in and filled in for "Bees" [Matt Besler] and [Aurelien] Collin, I think he's been fantastic. There was absolutely zero letdown when he come onto the field. I think he's playing very well. He should've had two [goals] tonight."

On the depth in the defense:
"That's one thing that this year's team has, I think more than we ever have, is that depth. Not just at that centerback position, really at a lot of positions. So, I think with our scheduling this year, with the amount of games we'll be playing, you'll beseeing a lot of impact from, probably, every single man on this roster."

On U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's team choice for the upcoming friendlies:
"It's part of his M.O., to be very positive with whoever is in camp. So I feel like I have full confidence in Jurgen [Klinsmann]."

On if he believes Landon Donovan will get back with the USMNT:
"Yeah, I do. I think it's a matter of time before he gets back in the group. And when he does it will be fantastic. It's only going to help us. You know, we're all on the same team here, it's not a competitive issue for me. I want the best team out there to help us qualify for the World Cup. So if Landon [Donovan] is in that group then great. It's not a competitive thing. We're all going towards the same goal and I want the best people out there as does everyone else."

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler:
On his thoughts on the game:
"You know, any time on the road, a point is good. And this wasn't an easy game. We knew that going in. We knew that they needed a result and they were really gonna push for that. I think the way we cam out and played, I think everyone can be happy with that. I think if you look at the last 10 minutes of the game we were pressing forward and trying to get three points. And I think that's a good sign."

On his thoughts on teammate Ike Opara's goal that was called back:
"I still haven't seen it on video, so I'll have to take a look at that. But, the way I felt the play went. I was on the endline, and when I cut it back there was a guy that was right on with me, and we kind of slid down by the endline. So I'll have to see the video but my feeling is that he was with me on the endline."

On teammate Ike Opara's play:
"He's done great. The last four games now, he's stepped in and he's done very well. [He's] a solid threat in the back and he's also good on attacking set pieces. So. Can't ask for anything else for a guy coming in and doing his job."

On having Opara to step in:
"It's huge. It's gonna be very big for us in the summer months when we're playing the [Lamar Hunt] Open Cup and [CONCACAF] Champions League. The center back is one of the most important spots. And we got three or four guys to play that spot."

D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen
On getting a result:
"It beats losing. I'm encouraged that Nick [DeLeon] was back out there for ninety minutes and we saw [Chris] Pontius back out there. We've got a couple guys getting some minutes that usually wouldn't. I thought [Taylor] Kemp did okay for his first game. It was good to get his feet wet. I thought our center backs were pretty good all night. It wasn't a great performance from us, but it was a gutsy performance. It's what we needed right now to change our course. Again, things don't go your way, especially when you have a bunch of losses and guys doubt themselves a little bit. You've got to dig in and find a way to get results. That starts to steamroll into confidence, and that is how you get out of this stuff. Unfortunately, I've been through these before when I first started my coaching career and I watched it from an assistant coach's standpoint. You have to have everyone committed. You need a bounce here and there. You probably got that as well a little bit."

On if the attacking mentality changed when Chris Pontius came in:
"I thought you saw some good stuff from Chris [Pontius], but I thought you saw some rust in him physically. He got winded pretty quickly. Forty-five minutes might have been a little ambitious from the coach, but I wanted to get him in there. Nick [DeLeon], [Kyle] Porter and Ethan [White] were all cramping out there and still fighting through to find a way to get a tie. That's a positive. The soccer will get better. I had J.T. [John Thorrington] who I could have dressed this week, but I wanted to give him one more week to make sure he is ready. So now he comes back in the fold next week. Pontius now has some game time and Nick is probably ninety minutes fit now. It's coming along."

On young DP Rafael not being in the 18:
"Rafael got a concussion in training. [Raphael] Augusto had the weekend off for some family issues that he needs to take care of."

On if the team gave a full ninet- minute effort:
"Yes. It was pretty complete from a focus standpoint and commitment. We still tied, so it's a little strange to be too positive about a tie. But that's who we are right now. There were some times where it was okay, and on the counter we still have to be cleaner and simpler and be more threatening. I thought overall it was a pretty good, gutsy performance."

On Kyle Porter's performance:
"We asked a lot of Kyle this week. It's one of those things where you're new and you get into the game or in a team and you have a couple of games. You have some moments and you do okay. You can either go down or move it up a little bit. We asked him to step it up and start producing, whether it was assists or goals and don't be okay with just being a starter now. Get good minutes, push yourself and get your name out there. I'm glad he did that today. Chris [Pontius] put a wonderful ball to the back post. The better soccer players we can get on the field, the better we're going to be going forward."

On Bill Hamid's performance:
"He was good. He needed that, and I'm happy for him. He made a couple of big saves down the stretch when we were under the gun. These are games we've lost this year where a little luck or bounce didn't go our way. Today it went our way added with a gutsy performance from every guy. Everybody was committed and connected and doing what they could for the group."

On how the midfield part of the field played:
"Not great. We played Nick at holding midfield where he has never played in his life. He did pretty damn good at it, too. There is a lot to work on. I'm not sugarcoating this tie, but again it beats losing."

On the team's morale in the locker room:
"I think there was a little bit of an exhale, to be completely honest with you. This gives them a chance to exhale and maybe smile for a day or two. This gives them an opportunity to really change things next weekend against Portland. Portland is a very good team. They will come in here, and it will be another tough team. It seems like every week we are playing one of the better teams in the league."

D.C. United midfielder Kyle Porter
On the message he has been getting from the coaches:
"Him [Ben Olsen], Chad [Aston] and Josh [Wolff] have been giving me the confidence to play and work on my strengths. Bringing that forward, it's only getting better. I think it's a big help to the team, and everyone is feeding off that energy."

On the team's energy being up:
"I think we're just tired of losing. We just want to head in the right direction, and get back and climb up the table."

On scoring his first MLS goal:
"It felt great. I double-checked the linesman to make sure he didn't call it back. It was good - a big confidence booster."

On the attack going through him during the first half:
"I think staying out wide, the switch was on and they didn't know how to deal with us, me and [Chris] Korb on the wing. I think we just played to it and it worked a little bit."

D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid
On if he is encouraged by the match's result:
"I don't know. It is just time for us to turn it around. As a team, we want to start getting points and moving up the ladder. It's a start though; it's a start."

On his save at the end of the game:
"We have to do a little better as a team. I just want to do my best to bail us out."

On if the call up to the U.S. Men's National Team helped his confidence:
"No, our standings right now is where our confidence is at. As a team, each individual wants us to move up the ladder. We have to do better individually and as a unit. We have to lock it down as tight as we can to get points and move up in the standings."

On Kansas City's goal:
"It knocked Ethan [White]. It just goes back to set pieces, and we as a team have to do better on set pieces. We did a good job today locking them down. They got a lucky bounce on one of them, and that happens. Looking at the game throughout the whole ninety minutes, as a team we did really good on set pieces."

On if this is the start of good things to come for the team:
"We've got to keep working and create our own luck. If we continue going out and creating our own luck, it will be the start of a good turn around."

On where the team's fire came from:
"Like I said, it's where we're standing right now. We want to continue moving up the ladder and continue closing the gap between the playoff seats and us. We've got to lock it down.

D.C. United defender Ethan White
On Kansas City's goal being called back in the first half:
"It's definitely a relief. We wanted to get into the half at 0-0 or us up. When I saw the referee put that flag up, I took a huge sigh and kept playing."

On what it feels like for D.C. United to get a point out of the match:
"We're not completely out of the ditch, but it's a step in the right direction. We fought hard, and we had some chances on goal and put in some good balls and actually have them on their heels for a little bit. It feels good to take a step forward."

D.C. United midfielder Chris Pontius
On how it feels to get a point from the match:
"It was against Kansas City, one of the top three teams in the league for me, so a point is not the end of the world. It was just good to be back on the field for me."

On D.C. United's goal:
"I saw both [Dywane] DeRosario and Kyle [Porter] had some space. I was just trying to clear the first guy and get it over them to give them a chance. Kyle had a fantastic finish."

On how the team responded after going down a goal:
"What I don't like is that it takes us to go down to kind of get going. At least we started pushing. Kyle [Porter] got another good look. We were pushing for the second goal because we weren't satisfied with a tie, so I was happy with that."

On if the team gave it a ninety-minute effort:
"It was another set piece goal, so no. It was better. It's a step in the right direction again, but these steps in the right direction need to start coming out with a complete performance from us. One too many mistakes."

On how he felt coming back after missing three games:
"Rusty. My touch was off. At least I had an impact in the game with an assist, but other than that, when you come back you kind of second guess yourself on a lot of your decisions. It's not natural. Once I get into a full week of training, hopefully I can be a lot cleaner in the game."

On how his injury felt during the game:
"The injury felt good."

D.C. United midfielder Dwayne De Rosario
On if he is getting the ball in positions where he can be effective:
"No. Again, that's why I said my neck was hurting from looking at the ball going over my head all the time. They have big boys in the back, and we are obviously playing to their strengths. I'm happy for Kyle [Porter] to get his first goal of the season. It's definitely a confidence booster today and something we can build off of."

On if he could get the ball in a better spot:
"I think we have players that can play. That's the thing, when every goalkeeper is launching the ball up, it doesn't give us a chance to breath. We need to open up a little more in the back and let their forwards do a little bit of defending and work. Obviously, it's a very defensive game. The last how many games we have played have been very defensive. You've got to start playing positive, moving forward."

On if the team is playing with passion:
"Yeah definitely. Obviously with the result and what you saw today with the energy and effort the guys put out, putting their bodies in front of the ball and in the box blocking shots and doing whatever they can to keep it at one goal. I'm disappointed at the set piece we gave up, but it was nice to see us bounce back and get that goal. It's something we can build off of.

On the contributions of the younger players:
"It's good, I think all of the guys that were asked to step in did a great job. It was a lot to ask them in such a short time. Some of the guys just came from Richmond and now they are playing against one of the top teams in the MLS. I thought they did very well, and I'm happy for Kyle [Porter] to get his first goal of the season. Hopefully it will build his confidence and everyone's confidence with that result."

Assistant Referee #2 Matthew Nelson
Question to Assistant Referee #2 Matthew Nelson from Pool Reporter: Please explain the disallowed goal by Sporting Kansas City in the first half. It appeared that at least two players kept [Ike Opara] onside.

Answer from Assistant Referee #2 Matthew Nelson:
"I misjudged the play at the time the ball was kicked, leading me to believe the player was in an offside position."


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