Midfielder Felipe Gutierrez scored his first goal in more than five months to lift Sporting Kansas City to a 1-0 victory over visiting Orlando City on Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Goalkeeper Tim Melia made three saves while extending his MLS-leading shutout count to 12. Sporting Kansas City has won five of its past six matches.
The victory allowed Sporting Kansas City (14-7-6, 48 points) to move into second place in the Western Conference, just one point behind FC Dallas.
Orlando City (7-17-3, 24 points) continues to struggle and is just 1-15-2 over its last 18 matches. The Lions are 12 points behind the sixth-place Montreal Impact, who currently hold the final playoff spot in the East.
Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer was thwarted twice in his first game in Kansas since Sporting KC traded him 13-plus months ago.
Lions goalkeeper Joe Bendik made four saves as Sporting KC held a 16-8 edge in shots. SKC put five shots on target and Orlando City had three.
Gutierrez’s sixth goal of the season was set up by forward Yohan Croizet, who delivered the pass into the box. Gutierrez sent a left-footed shot through traffic past Bendik in the 53rd minute.
Gutierrez was the MLS Player of the Month for March when he scored five goals. But he suffered a groin injury in the final game of the month and eventually underwent sports hernia surgery on May 1 and didn’t return to the lineup until mid-July.
Gutierrez nearly had a second goal in the 80th minute but his left-footed shot was just wide to the left.
The timing couldn’t have been better in terms of Gutierrez ending his stretch of eight straight matches without a goal — including seven since returning to action.
Sporting Kansas City’s top three goal scorers were all called up for international duty. Johnny Russell (eight goals) is with the Scotland national team, Diego Rubio (eight) was recalled by Chile and Daniel Salloi (seven) is with Hungary.
Dwyer had a chance to tie the score in the 60th minute, but Melia stopped his close-range left-footed shot.
Each team had just one shot on target in the first half when SKC had five total shots and Orlando City had three.
Dwyer had a breakaway opportunity in the fifth minute, but Melia was able to deflect the left-footed shot away. Forward Krisztian Nemeth had the lone on-target shot for Sporting KC and also sent a header over the net.
—Field Level Media