Courtesy of Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City (0-1-0, 0 points) opened the 2022 Major League Soccer season with a 3-1 loss at Atlanta United FC (1-0-0, 3 points) on Sunday. Daniel Salloi struck for Sporting late in the second half, however goals from Luiz Araujo, Dom Dwyer and Caleb Wiley propelled the hosts to the Week 1 win in front of 67,523 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium – the largest crowd for an MLS match involving Sporting KC.
Sporting nearly opened the scoring in the 12th minute as offseason addition Logan Ndenbe won a free kick on the left flank and Remi Walter floated the set-piece service into the box. Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan came off his line to punch away the delivery but failed to significantly alter the flight of the ball, which fell to Andreu Fontas at the backpost. The Spanish centerback settled and sent a shot toward net, however Atlanta defender George Campbell did well to recover for the goalline clearance.
Araujo would exit with an injury minutes later as Dwyer entered the match to face the club which he played his first six professional seasons with from 2012-2017. Dwyer, who signed with Atlanta earlier in the week, would make the most of the opportunity, doubling the Five Stripes’ lead in first half stoppage time on another assist from Martinez.In the 20th minute,
Atlanta capitalized on a giveaway in Sporting’s own half to grab the 1-0 lead. Tyler Wolff, the 19-year-old son of Sporting Legend Josh Wolff, earned his first MLS assist as he played a pass to Josef Martinez, whose backheel set up Araujo for his fifth regular season goal since the Brazilian signed as a Designated Player last summer from Lille.
Sporting – who had come close to leveling the match twice prior to conceding, first with a left-footed shot from Remi Walter in the 37th minute and again on a goalmouth scramble at the start of first half stoppage time – would be forced into a substitution in the 50th minute as Jose Mauri replaced Uri Rosell, who exited early due to injury in his first appearance for the club since 2014 after returning to the team this offseason.
Both sides would continue to create scoring chances in a back-and-forth second half. Atlanta threatened to find a third goal in the 54th minute if not for an important intervention by Nicolas Isimat-Mirin with a superb block to deflect Martinez’s first-time effort from 15 yards out over the bar. In the 67th minute, Salloi supplied Khiry Shelton with a well-weighted pass inside the penalty area, however Shelton’s shot was ultimately off target.
Dwyer, whose goal was his first in the MLS regular season since 2019, almost bagged a brace in the 77th minute, connecting with a cross from second-half substitute Brooks Lennon only to see his sliding shot roll wide of the net under pressure from Tim Melia. The Sporting goalkeeper was called into action again three minutes later to keep out a free kick taken by Marcelino Moreno.
Sporting cut the 2-0 deficit in half with five minutes remaining in regulation as Salloi hammered home a volley on a corner kick taken by fellow Sporting KC Academy product Felipe Hernandez. Coming off a career-year as an MLS All-Star and MLS MVP finalist, it marks the second straight year Salloi has scored in the club’s season opener. Salloi now has 32 regular season goals to go along with 18 assists, making him only the 11th player in team history to contributed a combined 50 goals and assists for the club.
With the visitors pushing forward in pursuit of a last-gasp equalizer, it was Atlanta that struck instead as 17-year-old Caleb Wiley scored on his MLS debut. The Homegrown Player raced onto a through ball from Moreno and put the game out of reach in the 89th minute. Atlanta would be denied a fourth goal in second half stoppage time as Melia made his third and final save of the day in a one-on-one situation with Brooks Lennon.
Sporting will now return to Kansas City for the club’s highly anticipated home opener against Houston Dynamo FC at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 5 at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets are available online at SeatGeek.com and the Western Conference showdown will be nationally televised on Univision and TUDN with an English-language stream available on Twitter in addition to the club’s local broadcast airing on 38 The Spot.