Sporting KC earns point with road result in San Jose


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By Kurt Austin – SportingKC.com

Sporting Kansas City (3-7-4, 13 points) picked up a point on the road on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes (3-5-5, 14 points) at PayPal Park.

Club captain Johnny Russell scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season and in doing so moved into sole possession of third place on the team’s all-time scoring chart with 44 career regular season goals. Add in his 31 career regular season assists and Russell is now the fifth player in team history to tally 75 goal contributions.

Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia also put in a strong performance, matching his season high with four saves — all coming in a 15-minute span of the first half to keep the hosts at bay before Russell’s breakthrough. Melia was first called into action in the 29th minute with a sliding stop on Cade Cowell from close range at the edge of the six-yard box.

Ten minutes later, Melia dove low to his left to palm away a header from Francisco Calvo on a corner taken by Cristian Espinoza. Jeremy Ebobisse was next to test Melia a minute later with a dipping strike from 35 yards out that was turned away before San Jose came close to scoring on the ensuing corner only to see Calvo’s header blocked and Oskar Agren’s header directed just beyond the crossbar.

Melia’s fourth and final save of the night came in the 42nd minute as Cowell picked up the ball at midfield and drove forward down the field before unleashing an attempt from 30 yards out that was smothered by Melia.

After the flurry of scoring opportunities for the Earthquakes, it was Sporting that stunned San Jose with the game’s opening goal in the 45th minute. Roger Espinoza lofted a pinpoint pass from the left touchline into the path of Cam Duke, who took the ball out of the air with his first touch, rounded the goalkeeper with his second touch and cut the ball back for Russell with his third touch. Russell did the rest, smashing a left-footed shot past two Earthquakes defenders for his second goal in as many weekends.

Duke, a Sporting KC Academy product, now has a team-best three assists this season while Espinoza became one of only five SKC players to record 40 career assists for the club and one only three active MLS players with assists in 13 different seasons.

Sporting’s first halftime lead on the road this season was ultimately short-lived as San Jose took the second half kick off and struck for the game-tying goal before the visitors touched the ball. Jackson Yueill headed home a cross from Jamiro Monteiro 52 seconds into the half, giving the 25-year-old goals in back-to-back games for the Earthquakes who have now secured a league-leading 11 points from trailing positions in 2022.

Playing without nine total players due to injuries and suspensions, Manager Peter Vermes brought Marinos Tzionis off the bench in the 64th minute and the Cypriot international nearly made an immediate impact. The 20-year-old winger beat his man to the endline and played a cross that connected with Duke but San Jose goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski was alert to make the save.

The two sides – each navigating a stretch of seven games in 22 days — would continue to create chances in search of a go-ahead goal. Earthquakes second-half substitute Javier “Chofis” Lopez curled a shot just off target in the 72nd minute and Russell laid out at full extension to reach a cross from Duke in the 75th minute however his volley went wide.

Sporting Kansas City, who held the Earthquakes without a shot on goal after conceding the equalizer, improved to 7-1-5 against San Jose in the last 13 competitive meetings dating back to 2016, including a 3-1-2 record in the team’s last six visits to PayPal Park.

Having earned results in six of the team’s past seven matches in all competitions, Sporting will return home to host the Houston Dynamo at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16. Tickets are available online at SeatGeek.com with the winner of Wednesday’s match advancing to host the quarterfinal round of U.S. Soccer’s national championship.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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