After playing late into the night on Wednesday for the U.S. Open Cup final, one could have understood if Sporting Kansas City had suffered a letdown in their match on Saturday night with D.C. United.
No such letdown occurred as Sporting KC downed their Eastern Conference rivals 2-1 in front of 20,439 fans at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
Sporting KC opened the scoring in the 13th minute. On a corner kick from the right wing, Graham Zusi put a right-footed outswinger into the penalty area, where he found Teal Bunbury. Bunbury's header hit the lower 90 on the far post past goalkeeper Bill Hamid, his third goal of the season.
It was Zusi's 10th assist of 2012, putting him back into a tie for the MLS lead with Brad Davis and Dwayne De Rosario.
While Sporting KC continued to dominate the possession, DC United managed to capitalize on one of their few opportunities, albeit in somewhat controversial circumstances.
In the 23rd minute, Andy Najar fed a long ball into the penalty area, where Nick Deleon brought the ball down to his feet and put it in the back of the net.
Replays appeared to show Deleon contacted with the ball his forearm. It was reminiscent of the 2004 MLS Cup final when DC's Alecko Eskandarian brought the ball down to his feet with his forearm and scored.
Sporting KC maintained almost 70 percent possession for the first half, but the teams went into halftime tied at 1-1.
Eight minutes after the break, Sporting KC almost reclaimed their lead. Bunbury chased down a ball down by the endline and managed to cross it into the penalty area. Zusi put the ball on frame and bounced it off the underside of the crossbar, but it came back out.
In the 63rd minute, Zusi got another opportunity and made the most of it. Kei Kamara was making a run down the left wing and put the ball into the 18-yard box, passing just behind Bunbury. Zusi settled the ball and then buried it in the back of the net.
The goal was Zusi's third of the season, while it was Kamara's fifth assist.
With the victory, Sporting KC took over sole possession of first place with 43 points, two points clear of the New York Red Bulls. It also gave the club their 13th victory of the season—the most in a season since 2004.
Next up for Sporting KC is a road matchup with Toronto FC on Saturday, Aug. 18th. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. CDT and will be televised on the Sporting KC Television Network.
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