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Claudio BielerClaudio Bieler
Sporting Kansas City earned a dramatic 1-0 victory over D.C. United in front of a sold-out crowd on Friday night at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., and extended the team's shutout streak to 429 minutes, the second longest in club history.
Claudio Bieler claimed the game-winning goal for Sporting KC in the 89th minute when Soony Saad won the ball deep in D.C. United's defensive end and nudged it through the legs of Marcelo Saragosa before finding Bieler at the near post. The Designated Player's first time, left-footed strike beat Bill Hamid and found the back of the net from six yards out. The goal marked Bieler's fourth since joining Sporting KC this year and Saad's first assist of the season.
It was D.C. United with the first chance of the game, coming in the sixth minute when the ball settled on the foot of Lionard Pajoy near the left post. The Colombian striker took a shot from close-range but goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, appearing in his 100th regular season MLS match, blocked it as the offside flag went up to negate the play.
Sporting KC responded with a chance of their own in the 18th minute when a long throw-in from Matt Besler found its intended target in Bieler, who headed the ball just wide of the right post.
The home team had another chance in the 37th minute when C.J. Sapong made a run down the left flank, cut to the middle and sent in a right-footed shot, but Hamid was in perfect position to make the save.
D.C. United recorded their first shot of the match two minutes into first-half stoppage time and nearly netted a goal when Pajoy again found himself at the left post and fired a shot across the mouth of the goal, just wide of the far post.
Ten minutes into the second half, Paulo Nagamura delivered a dangerous chance for Sporting KC when he swung in a cross from deep in the left corner, but Hamid came off his line to punch it out.
The 64th minute saw another scoring opportunity for Manager Peter Vermes' squad when Benny Feilhaber slid the ball to Bieler. The Argentine found Feilhaber with a darting run inside the area, but his shot was just wide. Six minutes later, Graham Zusi took a firing shot from 18 yards out but it whistled just over the crossbar.
With just one minute left to go in regulation, Saad started the scoring sequence when he intercepted a Marcos Sanchez pass intended for Saragosa and avoided the Brazilian's sliding challenge. His pass from the endline connected with Bieler, who made no mistake in clinically finishing for the coveted game-winning goal.
Sporting Kansas City will enjoy a bye week before embarking on a two-game road trip in which they first face the New York Red Bulls at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 at Red Bull Arena. The match will be broadcast live on KSMO-TV and La Gran D 1340 AM.