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Sporting KC struggle with Real Esteli in home draw

BennyFeilhaberSportingKansasCity1-RealEsteli (SportingKC)


KANSAS CITY, Kansas– With the lineup Sporting Kansas City put out against Real Esteli on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions League action, you would have thought the team would have scored multiple goals in the first 10-15 minutes.

With Graham Zusi, Soony Saad and Claudio Bieler in the starting 11, expectations were that Sporting KC would generate a multitude of chances and be able to convert. Unfortunately for Sporting KC, there isn’t an entry on the score sheet for expectations. Opportunities to score don’t mean much if you can’t put them in the back of the net, as the Major League Soccer club drew with Real Esteli, 1-1.

“I thought we controlled the game with possession and chances,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said after the match. “We had plenty of chances, should have scored more than on. We had enough chances to put the game away and we didn’t.”

After a scoreless first half in which Sporting KC dominated the possession, Real Esteli seemed to get their act together and in the 54th minute opened the scoring. On a corner kick by Esteli’s Samuel Wilson, Rudel Calero arrived to the ball first and looped a header over Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.

Not until the 78th minute did Sporting KC get on the scoreboard. Forward Jacob Peterson, on the field for less than four minutes, nutmegged the keeper to equalize the match.

After the goal, Real Esteli seemed to start falling down all over the field in an attempt to kill off the clock. It got so bad at one point, the stretcher came out three times in as many minutes. Cramps would be understandable if it was hot, but the temperature at game time was in the low-to-mid 70s.

To his credit, Dominican referee Sandy Vasquez did not allow the visitors to roll around on the ground for very long before calling out the stretcher.

Real Esteli manager Ontoniel Olivas said during the postgame press conference that this match was more physical than the two teams’ last encounter in Nicaragua.

“It was more of a physical game here at Sporting Kansas City,” Olivas said. “Sporting KC played faster and for me it was true that I had to play more defensively and the game that we play in Nicaragua wasn’t the best game for us.”

With the draw, Sporting KC can advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament next March with a win or a draw in their last group stage match. They will take on Olimpia from Honduras at Sporting Park on October 23.

Real Esteli has been eliminated from the competition with one game to play. They could, however, spoil Olimpia’s chances with a result in Honduras on September 24. The chances, though, aren’t good. Real Esteli is 0-29-8 all-time in CONCACAF matches. In fact, they’ve only scored four goals in the competition in the last five years.


  1. I couldn’t believe the announcers didn’t give SKC’s GK hell for that goal. While his reaction and dive wasn’t great on the corner that wasn’t his fault but he should never have given up the corner in the first place. The guy shot from like 30yrds+ right at him and he thinks all he needs to do is lift it over the bar. That was an awful decision or if that really was the best he could do then he’s just a pathetic keeper.

    • Not saying I disagree, but forwards always seem to be a free pass to screw up as many times as needed……that one mess up compared to the uncountable number of opportunities to score VERY easy goals.

      • Don’t worry I was screaming at the forwards as well. One mess up on a gimme goal unacceptable as well like that sitter at the end that Peterson missed wide.

  2. Big disappointment considering SKC had a chance to have the top seed for the knockout rounds…the Galaxy are our only hope for that now and have a good shot. I think having a #1 seed is very important for the match-ups against the Liga MX squads so that MLS plays away first and then home for the crucial 2nd leg.

    • Only hope? If KC beats Olimpia at home they finish with 10 points from 12, and there’s currently no team with a better GD than theirs. If Cruz Azul and Toluca slip up in their remaining games, KC still has a decent shot. I do agree that the Galaxy seem to have a good shot at the top seed.

  3. The way Real Esteli was playing during the last 20 minutes, I thought that the match had stopped and suddenly Sporting Park w giving free stretcher rides to anyone wearing a white shirt.


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