Gyasi Zardes and Ethan Finlay scored early in the first half as Austin FC defeated visiting Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on Saturday in a Western Conference match played in the scorching heat.
It was the teams’ final MLS encounter before a month-long break for the Leagues Cup, a series of 77 matches between MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX.
Austin (9-9-5, 32 points) won its third consecutive home game. In addition, the Verde has never lost at home against Sporting Kansas City, winning all three games at Q2 Stadium and scoring nine goals in the process.
Sporting Kansas City (6-11-8, 26 points) had their three-match winning run snapped.
In the first half, the Verde scored twice in less than two minutes.
Zardes scored Austin’s first goal in the 17th minute, clearing up the rebound of his own point-blank effort that Sporting keeper Kendall McIntosh saved but couldn’t gather. The ball bounced back to Zardes’ feet, who hoisted it over McIntosh and into the goal. Jon Gallagher, the Verde’s all-star midfielder, started the scoring play with a cross into the goal mouth.
Then, in the 19th minute, Diego Fagundez’s outside-the-box pass deflected off Kansas City defender Andreu Fontas and crossed the penalty area to Finlay, who got just enough on the ball with his left foot to slot it inside the right post for a 2-0 Austin lead.
Dany Rosero was unmarked on the far post and waiting for a pass on a corner kick from Daniel Salloi when Sporting cut its lead in half in the 33rd minute. Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver redirected Rosero’s strong header into the top center of the net.
In the first half, Austin suffered injuries to midfielder Daniel Pereira (right shoulder) and leading scorer Sebastian Driussi (right groin).