Sporting Kansas City dominated possession throughout their match against the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies, but they had to wait until the final fifteen minutes to ensure victory in their final group match at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando. Preventing the Rowdies from getting a single shot on goal, Sporting stayed levelheaded as Tampa Bay got more physical throughout the match and were rewarded for their composure with the late game winner.
Graham Zusi, midfielder for the U.S. men’s national team, finally broke the deadlock in the 76th minute. After having seen Rowdies goalkeeper Andrew Fontein deny several of his chances earlier in the match, Zusi made the most of his late opportunity. Corralling a cross from C.J. Sapong, Zusi sidestepped a Tampa defender and rifled a shot with his right foot that finally proved too much for Fontein.
Tampa Bay had one shot to equalize five minutes from time, but even that chance was easily dispatched by the Kansas City defense. Adama Mbengue, on trial from Orlando City Soccer Club, came on for Zusi in the 80th minute and nearly doubled Sporting’s lead in the final minute. His low curling shot forced Fontein to make an acrobatic play to keep it out of the net.
The margin was slender, but after controlling nearly the entire match Kansas City was able to walk away with a victory. With the win Sporting finish 2-1-0, second in Group B; they will face the Philadelphia Union in the third-place match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic next Saturday. Tampa Bay will play the opening consolation match against Orlando City to kick off the final day of MLS preseason play in Orlando.