Krisztian Nemeth bagged a hat-trick, Johnny Russell struck twice and Sporting Kansas City cruised to a record-breaking 7-1 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon at Children’s Mercy Park.
The scintillating performance saw Sporting (2-1-1, 7 points) reach the seven-goal milestone for the first time in club history, equaling the team’s largest margin of victory in a competitive match. Felipe Gutierrez and 16-year-old Gianluca Busio also got in on the scoring act, the latter becoming the youngest player to score an MLS goal at Children’s Mercy Park, as Manager Peter Vermes’ men handed the Impact (2-2-0, 6 points) their heaviest all-time defeat.
Saturday marked just the sixth time in Major League Soccer’s 24-year history that a team has scored seven or more goals in a game. The result keeps Sporting perfect at home this year-where they have rattled off four wins while outscoring opponents 15-1-and gives the side plenty of momentum heading into a crucial Concacaf Champions League semifinal series against Mexican giants Monterrey next week.
On the heels of a restful international break, Sporting returned to action Saturday for the first of five matches in a busy 16-day period. Vermes deployed a strong lineup for the cross-conference clash as Spanish defender Andreu Fontas returned from injury to join Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic and Graham Zusi in defense. Further up the field, Nemeth made his 50th appearance for the club in all competitions, flanked in a three-man attack by Russell and Gerso Fernandes, who finished the day with two assists.
Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush was under threat for extended periods and conceded his first of a career-high seven goals in the 10th minute. Shortly after Gerso’s headed goal was overturned for offside in a VAR review, Russell landed the first of many hammer blows on the helpless Impact. Nemeth’s effort near the top of the box was blocked through traffic, but Russell’s first-time curler on the rebound nestled into the far left corner.
Gerso continued his menacing ways during a rampant first half, forcing Bush into a near-post save in the 24th minute and nearly teeing up Russell five minutes later. Montreal had stayed close up to that point, but the floodgates opened on the brink of intermission.
Two minutes before halftime, Gerso raced onto a clever Gutierrez through ball and marauded goalward before unselfishly laying the ball on a plate for Nemeth to slot into a gaping net. The mesmerizing play offered a fine example of attacking soccer, and it was not to be outdone by Gutierrez’s goal four minutes later. Gerso was once again the provider, chasing a lead pass from Espinoza and crossing from the right wing for the Chilean to make the score 3-0.
Unfortunately for the Impact, Sporting were far from finished. Russell tallied his second goal and the team’s fourth in the 50th minute, receiving a pass from Espinoza and cutting past defender Rudy Camacho and side-footing a shot beyond Bush to ignite further celebrations inside the stadium.
Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia was a spectator for most of the match but produced a stunning stop near the hour mark. Saphir Taider’s long-range piledriver was destined for the top corner, but Melia sprung at full extension to push the ball aside and keep Montreal off the scoresheet.
Another wave of Sporting pressure resulted into the ball popping free to Russell, who sped down the left side of the box and pulled it back for Nemeth to poke home on the doorstep in the 68th minute. The hat-trick gives the Hungarian a team-best eight goals in seven matches this season and 25 for his Sporting career.
The record books needed further rewriting in the 78th minute. Busio, a burgeoning U.S. youth international who last year became the league’s second-youngest goal scorer, entered as a substitute and put his fresh legs to use, dispossessing defender Victor Cabrera and firing past Bush to etch his name as the youngest MLS scorer in the nine-year history of Children’s Mercy Park.
Nemeth became Sporting’s eighth hat-trick hero in the MLS regular season with 84 minutes on the clock. Ilie Sanchez played the red-hot Hungarian into acres of space for a simple finish inside the far corner. The hat-trick gives Nemeth a team-best eight goals in seven matches this season and 25 for his Sporting career.
Sporting’s lone blemish of an otherwise perfect afternoon came in the 89th minute when Taider grabbed a consolation goal for the Impact, his third tally of the season. The play denied Sporting its chance to equal the MLS regular season record for largest margin of victory set at seven.
With seven goals and three valuable points in the bag, Sporting will now shift their attention from the MLS regular season to the Concacaf Champions League Semifinals versus Monterrey. The first leg of the series is slated for Thursday at world-class Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Guadalupe, Mexico, kicking off at 9 p.m. CT with an English-language live stream on YahooSports.com and a Spanish-language broadcast on Univision Deportes.