Make that 519 consecutive minutes where Sporting Kansas City has not allowed a goal.
A header by Aurelien Collin off a Graham Zusi corner kick was more than enough for SKC, beating the New York Red Bulls 1-0 Wednesday night. SKC have now taken over first place of the Eastern Conference by one point and will defend their position in the table Saturday night in Los Angeles against the Galaxy.
Collin was pleased with the result.
“I was very happy,” he said. “But I think that if I score or somebody else scores, at the end we won and everybody is very happy.”
After giving his team the lead in the 13th minute, Collin was then charged with protecting it by marking Red Bull striker and renown goal-scorer Thierry Henry.
Henry had an excellent chance in the 64th minute after Matt Besler was fooled on a cross at the top of Sporting’s box that allowed Henry to run free, but he pushed the attempt wide right of the post. It would be his best opportunity of the night.
“This is not the first time we play against Thierry (Henry) so we are beginning to know him,” Collin said. “[S]ometimes he’s a very unexpected player so it’s very hard to defend against him. We have to stay very focused, he had a couple of opportunities he could have scored so we are kind of blessed or lucky but we are very happy with the result.”
Jimmy Nielsen felt the luck as well.
“He has such an unbelievable touch on the ball,” Nielsen said. “He puts himself in great opportunities and he converts nine out of 10 times but today it was just our luck that he didn’t.”
“They’re a team,” Henry said of Sporting. “It’s as simple as that. You have to give them credit – they played really well, came with a game plan and scored on a set piece.”
“I thought today that the best team won.”
There was a bit of drama in the 91st minute when New York’s Brazilian midfielder Juninho received a red card for kicking a ball at Nielsen in frustration. Juninho felt Nielsen was stalling and purposely delaying the game. This and the added frustration he had felt with the officiating led to poor judgement.
“(I) feel the refs have been a little bit tougher on the players that have a little bit more name just trying to impose themselves on certain players,” Juninho said. “(I) was very frustrated with the goalkeeper who was delaying the game a lot and (I) tried to rush him a little bit but(I) also feel that the goalkeeper exaggerated a lot and the ball didn’t hit near his face.”
In some ways Juninho frustrations were validated as Nielsen received a yellow card five minutes later for time wasting. Still, it is probably not a good idea to kick a ball at someone’s face in a dead ball situation.
In a better show of form, New York fans displayed a banner at the beginning of the game showing solidarity with the city of Boston after the terrorist attacks that took place on Monday at the Boston Marathon. The sign read “New York Stands With Boston” with two fists grasping. The New England Revolution, Boston’s MLS team, will travel to New York on Saturday for their first match since the bombings.
Meanwhile, Sporting has two days of rest and a cross country flight before their next match Saturday against the Galaxy. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. and the game will be aired on NBC Sports.