By: Steven Seib and Eric Nehm
Soony Saad hadn’t been able to do it all season, but last night he was able to do it twice.
With a record-breaking crowd of 21,126 fans looking on at Sporting Park, Saad was able to deliver the first two goals of the match and his first two goals of the season in Sporting Kansas City’s 3-0 victory over Toronto FC.
“It’s definitely amazing. It felt right especially hearing the crowd erupt,” said Saad after the game. “We had a record-breaking crowd tonight and hats off to them they were fantastic from before the game to right now.”
From the opening kickoff, Sporting KC dominated the game. The first 20 minutes of the game featured great possession from Sporting KC with multiple chances, including a Claudio Bieler shot in the 14th minute that required a nice save from Joseph Bendik, but ultimately there would be no goal.
Despite overwhelming possession, Sporting KC did look vulnerable to the counter-attack and Toronto took advantage in the 18th minute when Jeremy Brockie found himself alone to the right of the goal and tried to put one past Jimmy Nielsen. Nielsen parried the first attempt away from the goal, but only to the feet of Brockie, whose second effort Nielsen secured.
With Sporting KC on the attack again in the 21st minute, defender Seth Sinovic brought the ball up the left wing and drew two defenders. He then found Saad alone in the middle of the field. Saad composed himself and took a powerful shot that found its way into the lower left corner of the net to give Sporting KC the first goal of the game.
“I was able to pull my run back and Seth slipped it in to me,” Saad said. I took a touch and I just kept my head down and tried to hit it with my laces. I made good contact and soon as I hit it, I knew it was goal bound.”
Though Kansas City continued to dominate possession, the rest of the first half remained relatively quiet with very few threatening chances from either side.
The second half started very similar to the way the first half ended with Sporting KC once again dominating possession and threatening the Toronto FC goal.
Then, in the 51st minute, Saad attacked from the left wing and passed to Graham Zusi open near the top of the box. Zusi took a shot that was parried away by Bendik, but Saad, finishing his run, was right there for the rebound and his second goal of the game.
“We always talk about getting runners in the box,” said manager Peter Vermes. “The more numbers we have there, the more opportunities falling back to us and we’ll get those goals.”
After a rough tackle on Saad in the 56th minute, Reggie Lambe of Toronto FC was sent off in the 56th minute with a red card. For a team struggling to keep up with the attack of Sporting KC, playing with one less player on the field was the last thing Toronto FC needed.
Sporting KC didn’t waste much time before taking advantage of the extra room Lambe’s red card had afforded them. In the 63rd minute, Saad once again attacked from the left wing and passed off to Kei Kamara, who deftly pushed the ball on to Benny Feilhaber in front of goal. Feilhaber, with terrific awareness, gently tapped the ball off to Bieler, who tapped the ball into the back of an empty net.
“I think the third goal was one of the best combination play goals we’ve scored since I’ve been here,” Vermes said. “We’ve been working on it for, I don’t know, five years to try to get there, but we finally did.”
Vermes’ joking in the press conference was indicative of the kind of game Sporting KC played last night. From whistle to whistle, Sporting KC dominated. At game’s end, Sporting KC had possessed the ball a staggering 67% of the game and outshot Toronto FC 24 to 4.
With the victory and Montreal’s loss to New York last night, Sporting KC took sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. They will look to remain in first place next Saturday when they go on the road to take on Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium at 9 p.m. CDT.
Listen to the post-game comments of Soony Saad and manager Peter Vermes here: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/x4qiu0ie4ano9qe/PostGame_071313.MP3