May 5, 2018; Kansas City, KS, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Enzo Martinez (90) looks to pass the ball during the second half of the match against Sporting Kansas City at Children's Mercy Park. Sporting won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY — Daniel Salloi, surrounded by a media scrum after Sporting Kansas City’s 1-0 win over Colorado Saturday, couldn’t stop laughing.
He was trying to answer all the questions seriously: the ones about his goal in the 16th minute, the ones about Sporting’s 6-2-2 record. But Johnny Russell was hiding behind someone’s shoulder, trying hard to make eye contact with Salloi and take away his concentration. For once, the media attention wasn’t on Russell himself, but on the 21-year-old who had won the match for Sporting.
It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for Salloi: Ike Opara headed a ball forward and Khiry Shelton was on the other end. But so was the post, as Shelton’s diving header went straight into it — twice. Technically, Shelton’s mishap gave him an assist after Salloi put away the rebound and notched his second goal of the season, putting Sporting up 1-0 in the 16th minute.
“Bes (defender Matt Besler) played a good ball back to Ike and he was very smart to play it across to Khiry and I just wanted to follow up the action,” Salloi said. “Khiry was super unlucky. He hit the post twice and it bounced across me and I had an easy job. I’m super happy for it. Other than that, I should have scored four other goals, so I’m pissed about that.”
Russell added, “I think this year, .. (Salloi’s) just really stepped up and kept going. He’s constantly running, he’s constantly moving, he’s constantly making runs from in behind.”
Salloi had eight shots on the night, three of those on goal, during what Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said was his best game of the year.
And he wasn’t the only one who racked up shots Saturday against Colorado. It was a night high in chances for the home squad. Sporting put together 24 shot attempts, seven of those on target. Kansas City maintained nearly 60 percent of possession, launching grenades left and right at Colorado keeper Tim Howard. Howard accumulated four saves off all those shots, despite giving up the one that would be the difference in a 1-0 match.
The posts that unwittingly created Kansas City’s one goal were otherwise unkind to the home team Saturday. Salloi hit the opposite post on the shot after his early goal. A backward head flick from Shelton dropped at Salloi’s feet in the 28th minute and his shot off the bounce went directly into the far post.
The unlucky streak extended to several other players’ ability to finish. Russell nutmegged his defender and got off a decent shot that was booted away by Howard’s foot early in the second half as Sporting was pushing for a second goal. Shelton had a shot sail wide right by just inches in the 73rd minute.
Still, Vermes was pleased those chances were created.
“(Colorado) came in with an extremely difficult defensive package in the way that they played,” Vermes said. “I give them credit – they put a good effort in today … I don’t think that they were ever really dangerous against us. I just don’t. … We did enough to score more than one goal. Unfortunately we didn’t, but we didn’t need to, and being able to grind out a win like that where you can score as we did, be at home, and still get three points like we did against an in-conference team, those are big points for us for sure.”