In a stunning turn of events, Sporting KC, seeded No. 8, upended top-seeded St. Louis City SC with a resounding 4-1 victory in Game 1 of their best-of-three MLS Round One playoff series. This unexpected triumph marked a departure from Sporting Kansas City’s typical possession-heavy tactics, as they allowed St. Louis to control the ball 60% of the time in the first half.
Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes praised his team’s performance, attributing their success to exceptional goals and nuanced adjustments. The approach, which involved relinquishing possession, paid off remarkably well for KC, despite Vermes initially downplaying it as a tactic.
Midfielder Remi Walter shed light on the team’s strategy shift, emphasizing the necessity of adapting to the opponent’s pressure and quality. St. Louis struggled to build the necessary attacks to overcome Sporting KC’s defense, while the latter capitalized on their chances with ruthless efficiency.
The opening goal came from Logan Ndnebe, who found the net with a sensational strike in the 27th minute. Tim Parker briefly equalized for St. Louis, but Walter and Gadi Kinda quickly put Sporting KC ahead with two magnificent goals. Notably, all three first-half goals for KC were scored from outside the box, a first in the current MLS season.
The visitors further solidified their lead with Daniel Salloi’s goal in the 61st minute. Sporting KC’s defense held strong, denying St. Louis any goals in the remainder of the game. With the series now shifting to Kansas City, Sporting will host St. Louis in Game 2 at Children’s Mercy Park, aiming to secure their spot in the next round.
Despite their significant road victory, Sporting KC remains focused on the task ahead, understanding that the job is far from finished. Their sights are set on maintaining their performance in front of their fans in the upcoming match, with the hope of sealing the series without the need for a third game.