Loan watch: Winston Reid helps Sporting Kansas City become best of the West
West Ham United loanee Winston Reid was in fine form for Sporting Kansas City as the defender helped his side to finish in top spot in the Western Conference of Major League Soccer.
Disruptions caused by the global pandemic meant that MLS had already confirmed a number of sides would not be able to complete their full 23 scheduled matches, with tables to be settled on a points-per-game basis.
Despite having played a game fewer than the teams around them, therefore, Sporting’s place in the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs was already assured prior to their trip to Real Salt Lake on Sunday.
That did not stop Reid from still mounting an imperious display, the New Zealand international returning to the starting line-up following a two-game absence to help his side clinch a clean sheet and a 2-0 win in Utah.
In snowy conditions at Rio Tinto Stadium, goals from Khiry Shelton and Erik Hurtado sealed the points and completed Sporting’s jump from eleventh place in the West last year to first place in 2020 – the largest single-season improvement in the 25-year history of MLS.
Reid and Sporting will now face No8 seeds San Jose Earthquakes in the first round of the Playoffs on either 21, 22 or 24 November. The match will be played at their home ground, Children’s Mercy Park.
In English football, two Academy of Football products both made their FA Cup debuts over the weekend as Dan Kemp and Olatunji Akinola featured for Blackpool and Leyton Orient respectively.
Winger Kemp played the final 20 minutes of the Tangerines’ comprehensive 3-0 win away at National League South team Eastbourne Borough.
With the League One club already cruising through to the second round thanks to Gary Madine’s second-half brace, Kemp’s FA Cup bow came as a replacement for midfielder CJ Hamilton.
As the game ticked into injury time, the 21-year-old showed some neat close control before curling an inch-perfect ball through to Jerry Yates, who finished emphatically from the angle – in turn recording Kemp’s second assist of the season.
Defender Akinola, meanwhile, played the full 90 minutes of a first-round clash at Breyer Group Stadium, as Orient went down 2-1 to fellow League Two club Newport County.
Newport struck twice from long-range through Ash Baker and Jamie Devitt, either side of Hector Kyprianou’s well-taken volley, to eliminate Akinola and Ross Embleton’s side from the competition.