HOW IT PLAYED OUT
Exiting a locker room that still reeked of Cooks champaign and Bud Light — a room where celebratory music was still booming through the speakers and photos with a new trophy still being staged — Tim Melia's attention was already some 96 hours into the future.
Asked how nice it was to avoid an additional 30 minutes of added extra time and penalties, Melia simply said, "Felt great. Good for Sunday."
And good it was.
In the club's first action since Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup title, Sporting Kansas City used a dominant first half that resulted in two impressive goals to down a struggling L.A. Galaxy side 2-1.
"Wednesday we obviously expended a lot of physical energy, but we also expended a lot of emotional energy, so what we didn't want to do was to come out slow," Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said after the match. "We decided to go high on them quickly and put them under pressure. I thought we moved the ball well and had great runs."
Daniel Salloi and Diego Rubio, two of the pieces charged with shouldering the attacking responsibilities following Dom Dwyer's departure, continued to look strong. An instinctual run from Salloi resulted in a goal for the second time in as many matches, while Rubio tallied his fifth league goal in seven matches — as many as Dwyer scored in 14 before exiting the club via a trade with Orlando City SC.
L.A. looked leaps and bounds better in the second half, scoring on Romain Alessandrini's left-footed beauty from some 20 yards out at the near hour mark, but Sporting KC's defensive shape held strong as the home unbeaten streak extends to 24 games.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Two players earned it on Sunday. Ilie and Seth Sinovic were key pieces in Sporting KC's game-plan after the Galaxy revealed that Gyasi Zardes — most definitely not a defensive player —would be starting at right back. Sinovic hounded Zardes throughout the first half, practically playing as a left winger as Sporting KC shifted to a three-man backline, while Ilie controlled the midfield and made Zardes' teammates overplay to his side with pass after pass in the attacking half.
Honorable mention goes to Jimmy Medranda, whose excellent vision was on display a handful of times in the first half.
"I'm very happy that I could score (in front of them) in both games," Salloi said of having his family in attendance this week for the first time since becoming a pro. "Now, Sporting said they're getting green cards for my family because they're good luck charms."
GIF OF THE MATCH
Home on Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps at 8 p.m.