Sporting Kansas City took down Orlando City 1-0 at home Saturday. Here are three things we learned from the match:
Felipe Gutierrez getting back to his old self
Gutierrez was particularly active in the first half, and it finally paid off in the 53rd minute with his strike to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead.
After an electrifying start to the season (five goals in the first five matches of 2018), Gutierrez went under the knife for sports hernia surgery in April. He really hasn’t looked the same since his return midway through this summer. But Saturday he appeared more like the crafty midfielder who could squirm through any defense earlier in the year.
Sporting still solid without some of its best
It wouldn’t have been a surprise if Kansas City had been a little disjointed this weekend. Thanks to national team call-ups (Johnny Russell with Scotland, Diego Rubio with Chile and Daniel Salloi with Hungary), it was missing several key components. Those three have combined for 23 goals this season. Still, Kansas City fared OK without them – sending 16 shots at Orlando (six of them on goal).
Sporting also played without backline anchor Ike Opara, who had to sit out Saturday for a yellow-card suspension. Without him, Kansas City still came away with a clean sheet.
Yohan Croizet becoming one of team’s biggest assets
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Croizet in his first season with Kansas City.
There was griping early on when the midfielder wasn’t scoring as much as fans wanted. He’s dealt with injury. Still, it appears Croizet is peaking at just the right moment for Sporting KC.
He created the second-most chances for Sporting on Saturday and assisted on the team’s only goal. He was consistently dangerous in and around the box, and put one shot on goal that was particularly alarming for Orlando.
Gutierrez said Croizet was “the best” in the match, and manager Peter Vermes praised him both for his play and for his versatility. That versatility – moving to the right side – allowed for more space for Gutierrez, who ended up scoring the difference in the game.