Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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Sporting KC Dominates Montreal

Sporting KC defeated Montreal 7-1 Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park.

Montreal was no match for Sporting KC’s pace and well-organized gameplan.  Sporting KC focused on attacking through their wingers, opening up space for other players to expose wide gaps in the Impact’s defense. Gerso Fernandes was the main contributor to this execution by taking advantage of space on either side of the field, and made Montreal slide their defensive focus toward him.

Head coach Peter Vermes was very proud how the team kept their foot on the pedal and did not let up even though they had a comfortable lead.

“From the opening whistle to the very end, the commitment of the group with the ball and without the ball was fantastic,” said Vermes.  “When you play like that, you play with that kind of intensity, you always give yourself a chance to get a great result.”

Sporting KC jumped right out of the gates when it had appeared that forward Fernandes had scored a goal, but the referees went to VAR and it was shown that Gerso was slightly offside.  Although Sporting KC did not receive the goal, this would set a precedent for the rest of the game.

The first half mainly consisted of counter attacks from both teams, leaving each midfield and defense in turmoil.  While Montreal struggled to fully dissect Kansas City’s defense, Sporting KC was able manipulate the Impact’s defense and created gaps of space for playmakers to make an impact on the game.  Sporting KC struck first in the 10th minute. Montreal’s goalkeeper Evan Bush gifted Kansas City right outside of the box. Krisztian Nemeth found himself with the ball on the edge of the box, but his shot was blocked by a defender.  Right winger Johnny Russell quickly pounced on the ball, and hit a curler into the bottom left corner. Montreal attempted to respond to that goal, but failed to complete passes in the final third and a lot of times struggled to connect cleanly on shot attempts.  In the 15th minute, Montreal was given a golden opportunity on a corner when Victor Cabrera had a clean header in the box, but sent the shot wide right. Sporting Kc continued to push toward another goal before the half.

Sporting KC nearly added another goal in the 29th minute when Gerso is sent a through ball, and his deflected cross spills to Russell shot the ball wide right.  Kansas City expanded their lead in the 42nd minute when Felipe Gutierrez sent Gerso free on the left wing. Gerso side stepped his defender, and the goalkeeper and slid the ball to Nemeth who simply passed the ball into the back of the net.  Gerso was not done giving Montreal’s defense fits as in the 46th minute he outran two Impact defenders, and sent a perfectly paced cross to Gutierrez. Gutierrez slid into the ball and slotted the ball into the right corner of the goal. Kansas City was highly efficient with their creativity on goal shooting 12 shots and five on target.  Montreal collected four shots and none on target. The pace and tempo of the game were being dominated by Kansas City. Sporting KC would take a commanding 3-0 lead into the half and would look to build on what they had accomplished in the first half.

Sporting KC continued their onslaught right out of the gates in the second half when they added another goal in the 50th minute.  Johnny Russell found himself free on the right wing and was sent a long ball from the midfield and pivoted the ball to his preferred left foot. Slotting the ball into the bottom left corner for his second goal on the day.  Russell’s goal shut the door on any possibility of a Montreal comeback.

After that goal, Sporting KC would slow the tempo of the game, and gradually build down the field instead of looking for quick counter attacks.  This change of pace would make Montreal apply pressure to Sporting KC, leaving their half of the field vulnerable. Kansas City’s defenders and midfielders were allowed to send long balls down the field to the wingers who were hovering at the halfway line.   Montreal’s goalkeeper Evan Bush made another crucial mistake in the 68th minute, spilling the ball to Russell who made a simple pass to Nemeth in front of an open net. Montreal was crumbling and there was still about 30 minutes of play left in the game.

Kansas City proceeded to pick on the Montreal defense and applied persistent pressure on Victor Cabrera in the 78th minute that added another goal on the scoreboard.  Cabrera was pressured by Kelyn Rowe, and dribbled right into Gianluca Busio. The youngster calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner. Krisztian Nemeth would cap off the win with a late goal in the 84th minute which completed a hattrick to go along with his amazing performance.  Montreal would score a consolation goal in the 89th minute that had no real impact on the game.

Sporting KC will travel to Mexico to take on Monterrey in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal.  After the win on Saturday, Coach Vermes emphasized how important this game was for the rest of the season.

“The idea is for us to be good at home, but at the same time we have to keep getting better as a team,” said Vermes.  “When you look at the different phases of the game, we were really good. Hopefully we can use this as a building block.”  Sporting KC are in this semifinal because how well they played at home in the second leg of the quarterfinal.

(Photo Courtesy of Sporting KC)

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