The Union crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, losing not just the game but also playmaker Marco Fabián to a second-half red card.
It’s the second time in team history that the Union have started a season with two losses, and the first time that they’ve failed to score a goal from open play in that span. Their only goal so far this year was Fabián’s penalty kick against Toronto FC last weekend. And with a trip to powerhouse Atlanta United coming next Sunday, the odds of things improving soon seem slim.
Sunday, the Union looked lively early, but all of their shots were off target. Kansas City took just one shot in the first half-hour and scored on it: an 11th-minute penalty kick by Ilie Sánchez after Auston Trusty shoved Gianluca Busio. TV replays showed Trusty admitting to teammates that he was guilty.
In the 38th, the Union earned a penalty kick after Seth Sinovic was caught on video replay committing a handball. But Fabián’s low attempt was saved by Sporting’s Tim Melia, one of MLS’ best shot-stoppers.
The day went from bad to worse in the 60th, when Fabián was sent off for landing studs-first on Johnny Russell’s right wrist after Russell slid under Fabián in pursuit of a loose ball. Fabián didn’t seem to have much choice about where he landed after going up in the air, and referee Chris Penso initially called it just a regular foul. But the video replay booth judged it to be intentional, and Fabián was sent off.
“I didn’t want to hit this player,” Fabián said after the game. “I just jumped and I landed on him because I didn’t have a place to land. Sometimes the decision is from the referee and I have to respect this decision.”
Sporting iced the game in the 80th minute when Union centerback Jack Elliott turned a Gerso Fernandes cross from the right wing into his own net.