Captain Johnny Russell scored on a sweet setup by Cam Duke at the end of the first half, but Sporting Kansas City conceded a very early goal to the Earthquakes in the second.
And that’s the way Sunday evening’s Major League Soccer match at PayPal Park in San Jose, Calif. ended: in a 1-1 tie between Sporting KC and the host Quakes.
Still fighting through injuries, Sporting KC (3-7-4) did well to hang on and play to the road draw.
Sporting manager Peter Vermes deployed a makeshift lineup that included Russell playing striker and Duke and Remi Walter on the wings. Vermes said it was the best way for Sporting KC to go into the match.
“I think all the guys worked really hard,” Vermes said. “They were very intelligent in the game, stuck to the execution of the game plan. If not for the situation that occurred with their goal, we were walking out of here with three points.”
Sporting scored just before halftime after Felipe Hernandez played an inch-perfect pass to Duke over the top of San Jose’s backline. Duke’s deft touch helped him get around the onrushing Quakes goalkeeper and pass off to Russell, who tapped the ball into the net for his fourth goal of the 2022 campaign.
“It was something we spoke about that we could exploit, with Cam getting in behind,” Russell said.
But he heaped all the praise for his goal on Duke’s execution of the play after receiving the pass.
“That goal was all down to Cam,” Russell said. “Great work, great perseverance, and Awareness to pick me out at the top of the six.”
Sporting fans may have had flashbacks to a recent 7-2 blowout loss at Portland not long after as San Jose scored so fast in the second half. A simple cross into the box found an unmarked Jackson Yuiell, whose powerful header got past Sporting keeper Tim Melia.
Road points are valuable in MLS, and Sporting surely earned this one. Things looked shaky after the loss in Portland, but they’ve punched back with a win and draw against Western Conference foes. In fact, Sporting’s only loss in the last seven matches is that 7-2 drubbing.
Now that they’ve stopped the bad results from snowballing, Russell believes it’s time for some good results to snowball.
“I do feel it’s coming,” he said.”Obviously, it’s not been the season any of us have wanted so far, but there’s still a hell of a long way to go, and I wouldn’t count us out anywhere near yet.”
Sporting KC now shifts focus back to the quest for a fifth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. The team has a U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Central Time.
This story was originally published May 22, 2022 8:28 PM.