From SportingKC.com and Goal.com Reports
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 12, 2012 - Sporting Kansas City striker and former JMU men's soccer player CJ Sapong scored in stoppage time to bring Sporting Kansas City past D.C. United, 1-0, in its season-opening game on Saturday.
Sapong, the 2011 Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year, headed home a Graham Zusi corner kick in the third minute of second-half stoppage time for the game-winning goal. The successful start to the new campaign returned Sporting Kansas City to the top of the Eastern Conference following a first place finish a year ago.
Sporting Kansas City controlled the game throughout the match, outshooting the home side 17-7 with an 8-1 advantage in shots on goal. But it wasn't until the team's final attempt of the match that Sporting broke through for the full three points and sent the capacity-crowd at the team's watch party in the Members' Club at LIVE STRONG Sporting Park into a roar of celebration.
Following a foul on Sapong in the game's waning moments, it was Zusi's free kick from 25 yards out that deflected out for a corner. The set piece specialist served an in-swinging delivery and Sapong timed his run well to meet the service at the top of the six-yard box. His glancing header in traffic froze D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid and settled inside the far post for the sixth regular season goal of his MLS career and his second game-winning goal in as many seasons.
"We were breaking them down all game, we were connecting passes, it was just that final pass and that final shot," Sapong said to reporters after the game.
Upon entering (the game with 15 minutes to play), Sapong, from nearby Manassas, Virginia, kept his cheering section on the edge of their seats until the 93rd minute, when he headed home Zusi's corner kick to give his team a dramatic 1-0 road victory.
"There's a bunch of tussling in there, especially at the end of the game like that," Sapong said about his goal. "I just focused on getting away from my man and once the ball was hit, I just went for it."
Scoring a game-winning goal so late is a special moment no matter where it takes place, but for Sapong - who attended college at James Madison University, a two hour's drive from D.C. - it was even sweeter to be able to do it so close to home.
"It was amazing, a dream come true," he said. "To see all my friends and family in the stands cheering for me, to see people that are cheering for D.C. cheering for me, it's an amazing feeling."
Sapong's team will face New England on March 17 at home at 7:30 CDT.
Sapong was selected by Sporting Kansas City in the first round of the 2011 Major League Soccer Superdraft last January.
Sapong, who was the 10th overall pick, earned the highest draft selection ever by a JMU soccer player. He was the first first-round selection from the JMU men's soccer program.
In his senior season the Dukes' forward was voted the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and named to TopDrawerSoccer.com's 2010 Team of the Season.
Sapong led the CAA and ranked among the leading NCAA Division I players in scoring with 33 points in 2010. He shared the CAA lead in goals (12) and game-winning goals (4) and also topped the conference with nine assists. Sapong finished his JMU career ranked fifth all-time in points (95), seventh in goals (37) and fourth in game-winning goals (12).
He is the first JMU men's soccer player to win All-CAA First Team honors for four seasons.