LOS ANGELES — Sporting Kansas City now sit atop the Western Conference after a dominating 4-1 win at Banc of California Stadium against LAFC.
After a disappointing 2-1 loss to FC Dallas at home last weekend, Sporting came out aggressive as four different players found the back of the net to get the team to double-digit wins.
The road victory gives Sporting KC a league-best 5 road victories and pushed head coach Peter Vermes into the 200 win club in all competitions.
Alan Pulido made his return to the lineup after being away on international duty with Mexico in the Gold Cup and didn’t take long to add to his season tally (7).
Pulido took advantage of a defensive miscue by LAFC and found an open net to put the visitors up 1-0 in the 20th minute.
“This is the mentality of the team that we need to prepare for all of the matches,” Pulido said. “We are so happy to be in first place but the season is not finished. We need to continue to work hard for these opportunities and these moments.”
“He’s a competitor and he’s let down because he didn’t play a lot for the national team. I understand that, too. He also knows that this is his home and he’s a part of the family here. We count on him a lot. The players have a lot of respect for his game and they know that he cares about the team,” Vermes said. “For him to just jump right in today and be as good as he was without playing for us for a month says so much about him. He doesn’t get enough credit. I don’t know why that is. I don’t know if it’s because he’s in Kansas City and we’re a small market.”
Fullback Luís Martins opened his MLS account 8 minutes later off an assist from MLS All-Star Dániel Sallói (5).
“It was fast. I recovered the ball. I passed to (Daniel) Salloi. I found the space inside and I made the run. He gave the pass back and I scored with my right foot. I’m happy for that,” Martins said.
Sallói continued his red-hot goal scoring streak and bagged his 10th of the season, further solidifying his place among the league’s best on the MLS All-Star roster.
The goal came off Graham Zusi’s first of two assists on the night in the 26th minute.
The SKC Academy product put himself within one goal of league leader Raúl Ruidíaz (11) of the Seattle Sounders.
“It shows the character of the team if you can win away. These places are not easy. We are always well prepared. We go in with a game plan and we do it well,” Sallói said. “I hope it’s going to stay like that because you never know what points you’re going to miss at the end or if you get to the playoffs, where you will have to play. So it’s very important to be good at home and on the road so that’s why we’re in first place in the West.”
LAFC came out more aggressive in the second half, but a 58th minute goal from Gadi Kinda put the nail in the coffin and sealed the victory for SKC.
A beautiful early-cross from Zusi found the Israeli in the box who managed to free himself up from defenders and head home his fourth of the season.
SKC was unable to hold on to the clean-sheet, however, when second half substitution Danny Musovski slotted a ball past Tim Melia in the 82nd minute.
Sporting will have a quick turnaround as they continue their tough stretch of four games in 11 days as they head to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to take on the Colorado Rapids and keep pushing their Western Conference dominance.
SKC visit the Rapids on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m.