Sporting Kansas City (0-4-3, 3 points) slipped to a 1-0 loss against the Colorado Rapids (1-3-3, 6 points) on Saturday night at sold-out Children’s Mercy Park.
Despite outshooting the Rapids 18-8 over the course of 90 minutes and dominating large periods of the second half, Manager Peter Vermes’ side was condemned to defeat as former Sporting forward Diego Rubio struck in the 68th minute to give Colorado all three points.
Sporting made two changes to its lineup from last weekend’s road draw against the Philadelphia Union. Striker Alan Pulido notably earned his first start and played his first match at Children’s Mercy Park since 2021 after overcoming a long-term knee injury, while Felipe Hernandez slotted into the midfield for his first start of the season.
In an evenly played first half, Colorado conjured the opening scare in the 20th minute on a Keegan Rosenberry long throw into the penalty area that was glanced toward the far post. Rubio was lurking for the finish, marked tightly by Graham Zusi, but goalkeeper Tim Melia fisted the ball away to extinguish the danger. Shortly thereafter, Zusi did well to stick stride for stride with Sam Nicholson and lunge to block the Scottish winger’s strike.
Sporting were next to threaten in the 35th minute as Children’s Mercy Park debutant Dany Rosero outjumped his defender to snap a header goalward from Johnny Russell’s corner kick, but Colorado goalkeeper William Yarbrough dropped low to make a smart save. Rosero was then involved in a scary clash of heads in the 39th minute with Rapids center back Andreas Maxso, prompting a six-minute stoppage of play. Rosero recovered from the blow to resume play, but Maxso was forced to exit as the Rapids summoned veteran Steven Beitashour to replace him.
The hosts nearly cashed in before intermission, with Pulido showcasing his quality by clipping a decadent ball behind the Rapids defense for Hernandez, but the Sporting KC Academy product’s shot under duress was swallowed by Yarbrough.
Vermes’ men dictated terms in the second half and wasted little time testing Yarbrough after the restart. Pulido and Daniel Salloi combined neatly on the edge of the box in the 49th minute, with the former unleashing a venomous blast that the Colorado keeper parried aside. Zusi went agonizingly close 10 minutes later after the Rapids failed to clear their lines, but the right back’s 25-yard turf-trimmer blazed marginally wide of the target.
Colorado survived another scare in the 66th minute—havoc in their own penalty area resulted in a shot from Hernandez that deflected wide into the side netting—before grabbing an unlikely goal against the run of play. Rubio won possession along the sideline and trotted forward on the counter attack, covering a distance of 25 yards before sending a low drive past Melia from outside the box for his first goal of the 2023 campaign and his fourth in 10 regular season appearances against Sporting.
An exasperating finale saw Sporting throw numbers forward in search of an equalizer, and it almost came in the 84th minute when Erik Thommy’s sizzling volley from the top of the box narrowly missed the mark.
Sporting will now prepare for a West Coast trip to face the San Jose Earthquakes (3-2-2, 11 points) next Saturday, April 15. Kickoff at PayPal Park is slated for 9:30 p.m. CT with a free broadcast on Apple TV.