A resolute defensive performance propelled Sporting Kansas City (2-6-3, 9 points) to a 0-0 draw against New York City FC (4-3-2, 14 points) on Saturday evening at rain-drenched Citi Field in Queens, New York.
New York City FC entered the chilly night on a torrid three-game winning streak that had produced 14 goals, but the reigning MLS Cup champions were stymied by a disciplined Sporting outfit that snapped its seven-match road losing streak dating back to 2021 and secured its third consecutive draw.
Goalkeeper Tim Melia collected his fourth shutout of the season and totaled three saves—reaching 600 regular season saves during his storied career in Kansas City—and Sporting picked up a valiant result ahead of Tuesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup clash versus FC Dallas at Children’s Mercy Park. The Round of 32 matchup will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT with tickets available at SeatGeek.com.
Diverting from his trademark 4-3-3 formation against Sky Blues, Sporting Manager Peter Vermes assembled his side in a 4-3-1-2 setup with captain Johnny Russell deployed as a central attacking midfielder behind forwards Daniel Salloi and Khiry Shelton. The midfield trio of Roger Espinoza, Remi Walter and Uri Rosell remained unchanged from last weekend’s 2-2 home draw with FC Dallas, while Sporting’s backline featured one fresh face as Academy product Cam Duke replaced the injured Graham Zusi.
A rip-roaring start saw Sporting nearly score twice within the first two minutes. Salloi dashed onto Melia’s booming delivery over the top and smashed a venomous volley that New York City gloveman Sean Johnson parried aside. On the ensuing corner kick, center back Kortne Ford latched onto Remi Walter’s in-swinging corner kick and glanced a header inches wide of the left post.
An end-to-end spectacle continued to unfold enticingly as NYCFC landed their first threat in the seventh minute. Right back Tayvon Gray was afforded space to swing in a low cross that midfielder Keaton Parks steered high and wide of the mark near the penalty area.
Salloi and NYCFC striker Heber exchanged audacious scoring attempts on either side of the 15-minute mark, with Ford doing well to block the latter’s volley inside the box.
Sporting had Melia to thank for the game remaining scoreless in the 34th minute. NYCFC created a turnover near midfield and broke forward with pace as Santiago Rodriguez darted his way into the box and sliced past Ford before pulling the trigger. Melia advanced off his line, sprawled low and spread himself to make the all-important save and keep the hosts off the scoreboard.
Undeterred by the scare, the visitors punched back by going agonizingly close to breaking the deadlock themselves. With 40 minutes on the clock, Shelton separated himself from his marker and whipped in a cross to Salloi for a lunging strike that was bound for the back of the net, but Johnson reacted wonderfully with a right-handed stop by touching the ball onto the post and allowing for a subsequent NYCFC clearance.
Diminutive NYCFC playmaker Maxi Moralez was summoned at halftime to replace Thiago Andrade and was involved in the buildup of a fleeting chance for the Sky Blues. Talles Magno was isolated on the left wing and cut the ball back to Rodriguez, whose long-range belter screamed wide of Melia’s left-hand post. Not long later, Talles Magno saw the ball drop fortuitously to his feet on the edge of the six-yard area, but center back Robert Voloder intervened crucially by sticking out his foot and extinguishing the danger.
Following a pedestrian quarter-hour of action, both sides had goalscoring bids narrowly thwarted. In the 75ht minute, Russell emerged from a scrap and unleashed a shot that took a wicked deflection goalward, but Johnson reacted well to smother the ball with both mitts. At the opposite end, Parks uncorked a left-footed sledgehammer at the top of the box that sizzled marginally wide of the frame.
The match remained goalless into the dying embers and although NYCFC substitute Gabriel Pereira had a decent look from 20 yards in the 90th minute, his shot lacked the pace and direction to beat Melia.