Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By TATE STEINLAGE
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Manchester City has added an extra piece of silverware to its trophy cabinet. The first of its 2014-15 campaign.
In a battle of reigning league champions, Manchester City captured the Champions Shield with an easy 4-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City in front of a crowd of 18,484 at Sporting Park.
The Sky Blues struck early and consistently, finding the back twice each half, while Sporting KC saw just one attempt find the back of the net on a night where 41 different players saw the field.
“It’s a great team for us to play for a number of reasons,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said after the match. “Obviously for us our focus is the league. We’re playing a big game on Saturday and that’s where our concentration was and is. Our biggest thing was that we wanted to get out of here unscathed, (because) as you know we’ve had quite a few injuries over the course of the season. From that perspective, everybody got out of there with no injuries, which is great.
“It was a good environment. It was a good game for us. It was a good 45 minutes for both groups, (and) it was good experience. Now we get focused on the game we have to get ready for and that’s Toronto.”
Manchester City needed just three minutes to kick off its U.S tour with a goal. Bruno Zuculini was able to take advantage of a botched clearance and fire a wonder strike past goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Dom Dwyer nearly equalized the match moments later with a fine goal himself, but the play was correctly ruled offside by the assistant referee.
The rally would finally pay off in the 30th minute, though, as CJ Sapong put away Sporting KC’s lone goal of the evening. As it was so many times last week, the sequence was a result of the excellent service of Benny Feilhaber. The midfielder spotted Sapong’s perfectly-timed run and connected exquisitely to set up the calm finish.
Manchester City would regain the lead seconds before the halftime whistle on a Dedryck Boyata header and would not look back from there.
Sporting KC threw 12 different players at Manchester City in the second half — 11 of which out of the halftime break — and the Sky Blues responded with two goals in the final 15 minutes from Aleksandar Kolarov and Kelechi Iheanacho to secure the Champions Shield trophy and a first victory on American soil in 2014.
“I think that today the people who came to the stadium saw a good game, especially in the first 45 minutes when the two teams played with their best player,” Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said after the match. “I think that for us it was very useful because when Sporting KC changed the 11 players for the second half it was useful because it was a very physical game when we’re now in preseason.
“The score of the game doesn’t matter, I think it’s always important to win. I understand that Sporting KC was thinking of the weekend and their very important game against Toronto. For us we have a lot of players at the moment who aren’t with our squad so its useful that the other players have a chance to demonstrate what they can do.”
Manchester City will now travel to Pittsburgh to face AC Milan in the opening game of their International Champions Cup campaign. Sporting KC will look to regroup after the loss as they head to Toronto for a weekend clash against Toronto FC.