Recap: Sporting battles LA Galaxy to stalemate in home opener

Sporting Kansas City (0-1-2, 2 points) battled LA Galaxy (0-1-1, 1 point) to a 0-0 draw in the club’s 2023 home opener at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday.

The hosts dominated from start to finish in cold and wet playing conditions, knocking out LA 30-8 and extending their shutout streak to 264 minutes – the second-longest active streak in MLS since the start of the season. Goals were difficult to come by from either side, however, and the 69th regular-season meeting between the founding members of MLS produced only the fourth goalless tie of the series.

Manager Peter Vermes made two roster changes compared to Sporting’s away game against the Colorado Rapids last weekend. Germany left-back Tim Leibold made his maiden MLS start and debut at Children’s Mercy Park when Ben Sweat fell to the bench while forward Khiry Shelton replaced Marinos Tzionis on the right side of attack.

Shelton was on the receiving end of Sporting’s first opportunity in three minutes, deflecting his header over the bar after Salloi’s cross from the left side of the box. It was the first of 17 shot attempts in the first half for the hosts, who held a crucial lead throughout the evening.

Sporting midfielder Erik Thommy finished second on goalscoring of the weekend in MLS and forced Bond to make a clever save off the post in the 28th minute, setting up his defender and shooting deep with his left foot from a tight angle. Thommy then became the assist five minutes later and won a corner kick for Roger Espinoza, but his attempt at a header was boxed in by Bond.

Bad luck continued to plague the home side just before half-time as Thommy missed a breakout shot in the 43rd minute and Bond made a full-length dive shortly after to fly off Remi Walter’s 28-yard sledgehammer.

Pulskamp enjoyed a stress-free first half but spared Sporting a blush nine minutes into the second half. Sustained possession from Galaxy released Efrain Alvarez on the right side of the box, but Pulskamp advanced from his line to smother the shot and Leibold decisively cleared the rebound to eliminate the threat.

Shelton and Sporting forward Willy Agada then combined on the hour, with the latter receiving a pass near the top of the box and spinning a pirouette before curling a shot over the bar. The Galaxy survived another shock seconds later when neither Shelton nor Agada pulled the trigger in a crowded box before Thommy could keep his attempt off balance.

Another Sporting substitute made his presence felt in the 72nd minute, when Leibold galloped forward at full speed and put the ball on Tzionis, who had a reassuring touch before flicking a shot wide of the near post.

Sporting would continue to ask the Galaxy defense questions in the dying embers of the competition, but LA stuck to sharing the spoils.

The Vermes men take on FC Dallas (1-1-1, 4 points) in a road test next Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The Western Conference duel is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT and will stream for free on Apple TV.

Sporting Kansas City: John Pulskamp; Graham Zusi, Robert Voloder, Andreu Fontas, Tim Leibold (Ben Sweat 77′); Remi Walter, Roger Espinoza (Nemanja Radoja 67′), Erik Thommy (C); Khiry Shelton (Marinos Tzionis 63′), Willy Agada, Daniel Salloi

Subs not used: Kendall McIntosh, Robert Castellanos, Kayden Pierre, Chris Rindov, Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez

LA Galaxy: Jonathan Bond; Kelvin Leerdam (Chris Mavinga 67′), Martin Caceres, Jalen Neal, Raheem Edwards (Uri Rosell 90+2′); Riqui Puig, Gaston Brugman (C), Mark Delgado; Memo Rodriguez (Daniel Aguirre 81′), Dejan Joveljic (Preston Judd 67′), Efrain Alvarez (Tyler Boyd 67′)

Subs not used: Jonathan Klinsmann, Eriq Zavaleta, Jonathan Perez, Adam Saldana

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