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Sporting KC looks for improvement at home vs. San Jose
Sporting Kansas City had a mostly hard-and-fast mode of operations in 2017.
SKC was pretty much unbeatable at home (10-1-6), giving up more than one goal at home just once in 17 games. On the road, Sporting struggled, going 2-8-7, scoring just nine goals on the road in 17 games.
After two games in 2018, the past is a distant memory. Sporting opened the season with a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of New York City FC. But they bounced back with a thrilling 4-3 victory on the road at the Chicago Fire.
Sporting hopes to return to its familiar form when it hosts the San Jose Earthquakes (1-0-0, 3 points) Saturday night at Children's Mercy Park.
The Earthquakes defeated Minnesota United FC 3-2 in San Jose in their opener March 3. They had last weekend off with MLS uneven scheduling due to an odd number of teams.
While Sporting KC hopes to return to 2017 form, the Earthquakes don't, at least not this weekend. The Quakes struggled on the road in 2017 when they won just three times away from Avaya Stadium.
Sporting (1-0-1, 3 points) is breaking in a new offensive group that struggled to find its grove in the opener but shined brightly against Chicago.
Sporting grabbed a 2-0 halftime lead, as Felipe Gutierrez and Johnny Russell each scored their first goals for SKC. Chicago scored three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead, but Jimmy Medranda scored in the 83rd minute to tie the score and Gutierrez scored the game-winner netted the winner three minutes later.
"I always think it's really interesting, the season starts off and people have those comments," SKC coach Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com when asked about blending in the new players. "The game's not an easy one. The most expensive players around the world are all attackers, and they're usually goal scorers. The last time I looked I didn't see anyone in our league buying anyone for $100 million to be a goal scorer. And sometimes they don't work. I believe in the guys that we have.
San Jose got a brace from Danny Hoesen and a goal from designated player Valeri "Vako" Qazaishvili" to build a 3-0 lead against Minnesota United, then surrendered two quick goals. They were able to hold off a late charge by the Loons.
"I think the energy level was absolutely perfect," San Jose head coach Mikael Stahre said after the win. "I think we followed the game plan in a good way. We controlled the game, especially the first half was really good I believe, and ultimately scored three-nil in the beginning of the second half. Then we, out of the blue, conceded two goals and the last five minutes.
"Danny and Wondo (Chris Wondolowski) and Magnus (Eriksson) and Vako are really dangerous. We followed the plan, but then we conceded two goals in a couple minutes in the second half. It's hard, but we can't forget that we took three points in the opening game, and that's number one."
Saturday both teams will be looking for three more points.
Updated March 16, 2018