Kansas City, Kan. C.J. Sapong scored the first Major League Soccer goal at the new Livestrong Sporting Park, and Sporting Kansas City held on for its first victory in its new home, beating the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, on Friday night.
Kansas City (3-6-4) won consecutive games for the first time this season and is unbeaten in its last five matches.
“It’s been just around the corner for a while now for this team,” said Sporting keeper Jimmy Nielsen, who earned his first shutout of the season. “We’ve been extremely unlucky in some matches. At the end of the day, you have to keep working hard in practice every day to get around that corner.”
San Jose (5-5-4) had a six-match unbeaten string broken.
The crowd of 18,467, while an announced sellout, was noticeably quieter than the standing-room-only 19,925 who saw Sporting play to a scoreless draw with Chicago when the $200 million stadium opened eight days ago.
This time out, Kansas City — coming off a 4-1 win at FC Dallas on Sunday — saw its offensive pressure pay off before halftime.
In the 31st minute, after Ramiro Corrales fouled Sporting’s Davy Arnaud about 45 yards from the goal, Graham Zusi sent a long free kick into the penalty area. Sapong leaped at the edge of the 6-yard box, put out his left foot and deflected the ball past Jon Busch.
“It was just one of those good free kicks,” Busch said. “It was tough to defend. Maybe on another night, I would have gotten it. Not this night.”
Sapong, after joking that “The soccer gods smiled on me,” also gave credit to Zusi for the spot-on delivery.
“When you have someone who can put the ball where it needs to be, that’s half your job,” Sapong said.
Nielsen, coming off a one-match suspension for a red card against Chicago, made four saves.