(May 31, 2014) - Sporting Kansas City fell 1-0 at D.C. United on Saturday as Fabian Espindola's 28th-minute goal snapped his club's seven-game winless streak in the series dating back to 2010. D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid matched his season-high with five saves to earn the clean sheet in a match that saw Sporting KC outshoot the home side 16-7 at RFK Stadium.
Playing without three players due to international duty (Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Lawrence Olum) and two additional defenders following season-ending injuries (Chance Myers and Ike Opara), Sporting Kansas City saw two-time MLS All-Star Aurelien Collin exit the match in the ninth minute with a hamstring strain. He was replaced by homegrown player Erik Palmer-Brown, one of eight players to appear in central defense for the club this season.
The first shot of the game for either side came in the 18th minute as Espindola sent a cross from the endline that connected with Nick DeLeon, whose header from eight yards out was straight at Eric Kronberg. Just over a minute later, Palmer-Brown -- the youngest player in MLS at age 17 -- did well to thwart Designated Player Eddie Johnson with a sliding stop inside the area.
Dom Dwyer led all players with three shots in the first half, and four shots in the game, with his first coming in the 23rd minute. Seth Sinovic did well to beat Chris Korb on the dribble and find Dwyer at the near post but Jeff Parke deflected the attempt inches wide of frame.
D.C. United took the 1-0 lead at the 28-minute mark on Espindola's seventh goal of the year since being acquired from New York in the offseason. The Argentine cut in from the right touchline and floated a left-footed curler inside the far post that evaded Kronberg to stretch his goal-scoring streak to three straight games.
After allowing the team's first goal from the run of play in the first half this season, Sporting Kansas City responded with four scoring chances before the halftime break. Jacob Peterson directed a first-time shot on frame in the 34th minute, his 10,000th minute of MLS action (including postseason), that Bill Hamid was well-positioned to smother.
Peterson was involved again five minutes later, sending a dangerous cross into the path of Dwyer that was blocked in the goalmouth and collected by Hamid. The 23-year-old goalkeeper made his third and final save of the first half with a diving stop to deny Benny Feilhaber from long-range.
The final opportunity to level the score came in the final minute of the half after a trademark piece ofcombination play between Antonio Dovale and Paulo Nagamura. Nevertheless, Dovale's shot was ultimately blocked at the top of the area by former KC captain Davy Arnaud.
In the second half, D.C. United was held to just four shots -- and none on target -- but threatened in the 50th minute when Arnaud played Espindola behind the Sporting KC backline. Kronberg was alert to the danger and quickly darted from his line to take the ball off the foot of Espindola.
The rest of the half belonged to Sporting KC in a match which the visitors controlled 61% of the possession. Nagamura came close to pulling his side level in the 55th minute on a pinpoint pass from Peterson, but his poked shot was again met by Hamid.
Feilhaber's free kick in the 63rd minute connected with Peterson for a flick header that carried wide of the far post and beyond the reach of Kevin Ellis. Forward Soony Saad entered the match in the 77th minute and one minute later was nearly on the scoresheet when his cross from the right side of the area was deflected goalward and pushed away by Hamid at the last moment.
D.C. United midfielder Alex Caskey was sent off in second-half stoppage time for a late challenge on Ellis, marking the fifth red card shown to a Sporting KC opponent in the past seven games. He will miss D.C. United's match against the Columbus Crew next Saturday.
Sporting Kansas City will remain on the road next week as the reigning MLS Cup champions travel to Houston for a rematch of the Eastern Conference championship at 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday at BBVA Compass Stadium. The match will air live on KCMI 38 the Spot and SKCTV with the team's official watch parties at the Johnny's Tavern locations in the KC Power & Light District (1310 Grand Blvd.) and Overland Park (11316 W. 135th St.).
D.C. United defeated Sporting Kansas City 1-0 on Saturday, extending Sporting KC's winless streak to five games. The winless streak is the team's longest since a 10-game winless run in the 2011 season.
Sporting KC is 5-5-4 in 2014 and 2-4-0 on the road.
Sporting KC is 20-19-10 against D.C. United all-time and now 6-13-5 on the road in the series.
Saturday marked Sporting KC's seventh game in a 28-day span.
Sporting KC's last win came on May 10 against the Montreal Impact.
Sporting KC made only one change to their starting lineup from the club's last match against the New York Red Bulls, with Jacob Peterson replacing Sal Zizzo.
Sporting KC has now fielded 14 different lineups through 14 games this season.
Twenty-four different players have started an MLS match for Sporting KC this season, more than any other club in 2014.
The loss on Saturday marked Sporting KC's first in the club's last eight meetings versus D.C. United.
Sporting KC leads all MLS teams with 60.49 percent possession in away matches.
Sporting KC leads MLS in total passes (6,597), successful passes (5,439) and possession percentage (59.98).
Sporting KC have conceded the second fewest shots in MLS (120). LA Galaxy have allowed 108 with four fewer games played.
Sporting KC are conceding a League low of 8.57 shots per game.
D.C. United (6-4-3, 21 points) has already eclipsed last season's point total (17 points) in less than a third of the games.
D.C. United has more points at home (17) than any team in the Eastern Conference.
D.C. United is the only club to have four active players with 50+ MLS goals: Fabian Espindola, Davy Arnaud, Chris Rolfe and Eddie Johnson.
D.C. United starting midfielder Davy Arnaud played for KC from 2002-2011, scoring 47 goals and adding 36 assists in 255 MLS appearances.
With 77 minutes played on Saturday, Jacob Peterson surpassed 10,000 minutes played in his MLS career.
Sporting KC won the club's first MLS Cup championship at RFK Stadium.
Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin left Saturday's match in the ninth minute of play due to injury. Collin was replaced by 17-year-old center back Erik Palmer-Brown.
Fabian Espindola gave D.C. United the lead with his 28th-minute goal, his seventh of the season and 51st of his career in the regular season. Chris Korb earned the assist.
Kevin Ellis and Seth Sinovic led all players with 10 duels won on Saturday.
Ellis led all players with five aerial duels won on Saturday.
Antonio Dovale led all players with 70 passes and three chances created on Saturday.
Erik Palmer-Brown and Alex Martinez led all players with four tackles won on Saturday.
In the 94th minute of the match, D.C. United substitute Alex Caskey was shown a red card for a late tackle on Kevin Ellis.
There has been eight red cards issued in Sporting KC's last 10 matches, three have been to a Sporting KC player and five have been to an opponent.
Sporting KC faces the Houston Dynamo in their next MLS match on June 6 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Sporting KC is unbeaten in their last three matches at BBVA Compass Stadium.