Sporting Kansas City needs to figure out why they are prone to giving up early leads this season. Even with the offseason shifting of players, the best defense of 2012 should hardly be suffering as badly as they are right now. Last weekend, they were able to withstand Sebastien Le Toux’s early goal for a 3-1 victory. This week things were less forgiving in Canada, as Toronto FC stunned the defending Eastern Conference regular-season champs in a 2-1 upset at the Rogers Centre.
Robert Earnshaw was the hero for the home side, vigilantly making Matt Besler — last year’s MLS Defender of the Year — and Sporting pay for a sloppy bit of passing in their back end. As Besler tried to lazily slide the ball across the pitch to Aurelien Collin just outside the Kansas City penalty area, Earnshaw pounced on the slow roller and clinically beat Jimmy Nielsen for the lead just three minutes into the match.
More sloppy defending would make the visitors pay yet again. Midway through the first half, John Bostock was pulled down by Paulo Nagamura in the box, leaving referee Fotis Bazakos no choice but to point at the spot. Earnshaw stepped up to take the kick, beating Nielsen coolly to his left for the 2-0 Toronto lead and a brace on his stat sheet.
Kansas City would pull one back late, as C.J. Sapong found Claudio Bieler for the goal that would halve the deficit. But as time ticked away, the two teams shifting their rosters for vastly different reasons, Toronto hung on for their first victory since a 2-1 defeat of Colorado on July 18 of the 2012 season. As Toronto broke their streak of futility, so too did they break Sporting’s streak of excellence; the defeat snapped a 13-game undefeated streak dating to last season that was the second-longest in franchise history.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY @ TORONTO FC
March 9, 2013
- 3′ — TOR/Robert Earnshaw (unassisted)
- 21′ — TOR/Robert Earnshaw (penalty kick)
- 77′ — KC/Claudio Bieler (C.J. Sapong)
- TOR (4-4-1-1): Joe Bendik; Ashtone Morgan, Darren O’Dea, Danny Califf, Richard Eckersley; Reggie Lambe, Jeremy Hall, Terry Dunfield (Jonathan Osorio/82′), John Bostock (Darel Russell/85′); Hogan Ephraim (Kyle Bekker/87′); Robert Earnshaw
- KC (4-3-3): Jimmy Nielsen; Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers; Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad/82′), Oriol Rosell, Paulo Nagamura; Bobby Convey (C.J. Sapong/45′), Claudio Bieler, Graham Zusi