Sporting Kansas City (5-11-4, 19 points) kicked off a three-game road trip with a hard-fought 2-1 come-from-behind victory against CF Montreal (9-8-2, 29 points) on Saturday at Stade Saputo. After falling behind in the first 15 minutes, Roger Espinoza scored a sensational goal from 45 yards out to spark the rally and Remi Walter struck in the second half to complete the comeback.
The victory is Sporting’s first of the season against an Eastern Conference opponent and the team’s first regular season win after trailing in more than a year dating back to a 2-1 win over LAFC on June 26, 2021. Sporting Kansas City improves to 8-4-3 – including a 4-2-2 record at Stade Saputo — in a series with CF Montreal that had been dormant since Sporting’s 7-1 win in 2019 and Peter Vermes’ squad is now 6-1-2 in the last nine meetings with the Canadian club.
Sporting Kansas City’s first chance of the game came in the seventh minute as Montreal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza, on loan from Serie A club Bologna FC, played a pass from the top of the penalty area directly to Johnny Russell. The SKC captain alertly controlled the ball and immediately tried to catch the goalkeeper off his line with an ambitious attempt from distance, however Breza recovered in time to collect the shot for his first save of the night.
Montreal, who lead MLS in first half goals this season, opened the scoring and grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the 13th minute as Romell Quioto headed home a cross from Lassi Lappalainen for his team-leading seventh goal of the year and his fourth in his past three starts at Stade Saputo.
Espinoza, a former teammate of Quioto’s on the Honduras Men’s National Team, responded for Sporting in spectacular fashion to level the match at 1-1. In the 29th minute, Espinoza won the ball off Quioto inside the center circle at midfield and launched a stunning shot from 45 yards out that looped over the outstretched arm of Breza and inside the post.
Espinoza’s equalizer – his 13th MLS goal in 13 seasons – snapped a 247-minute scoreless streak for the club and the goal was ultimately made possible by his tenaciousness on the defensive side of the ball, which was again on full display in the 40th minute with a recovery run to block Matko Miljevic’s shot from inside the box. Montreal would threaten again on the cusp of halftime as Mason Toye’s header was directed just wide of the near post on another superb service from Lappalainen.
Having clawed back from a 1-0 deficit to level the match – an accomplishment SKC had only achieved once this season prior to Saturday – Sporting stunned the hosts by pulling ahead in the 63rd minute. Khiry Shelton raced onto a throw-in from Kayden Pierre down the right flank and cut the ball back into the penalty area where Walter was first to reach it. The Frenchman, playing in one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world and making his 50th MLS appearance, made no mistake with a left-footed finish past Breza for his third goal of the year, a single-season career high.
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia – who has started all 20 of the team’s MLS matches this season along with Walter – produced four saves in the victory, with a pair of those stops coming in the game’s final 30 minutes to preserve the three points. In the 66th minute, Melia kept Sporting in front with a diving save at his near post on a shot from Miljevic. Then in the 85th minute, Melia made his best save of the night by reacting quickly to deny the first-time shot from second-half substitute Joaquin Torres
Sporting Kansas City’s three-game road trip – which will take the team through three different time zones in a nine-day span — continues on Wednesday with an MLS Rivalry Week match-up against Minnesota United FC. Kick off is set for 7 p.m. CT at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn., and the match will be nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.