KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City picked a great time to put together its most comprehensive and dominant performance in more than two months.
Sporting Park welcomed a record crowd — 21,126, the 27th consecutive sellout in league play — on Saturday to watch coach Peter Vermes’ crew rough up Toronto FC 3-0 and move into first place in the Eastern Conference.
Soony Saad got the ball rolling in the rout.
Given a sliver of space atop the Reds’ penalty box, Saad delivered a grass-tickling laser inside the left post in the 21st minute, which goalkeeper Joe Bendik was helpless to keep from the back of the net.
And Saad was only getting warmed up.
Left back Seth Sinovic was credited with the assist — his third on the year — on Saad’s first goal of the season and second in MLS play. Saad last scored during his league debut Aug. 17, 2011, on his 19th birthday.
He only waited 29 minutes to notch his next career goal, hammering home a rebound in the 50th.
Midfielder Graham lined up a shot on Bendik, taking a touch outside to change the angle at the last moment.
Bendik pushed away Zusi’s crackler, but knocked it straight to Saad for an easy putaway and a 2-0 lead for Sporting KC, 9-5-6.
Toronto FC’s frustration with Saad boiled over in the 56th minute midfielder Reggie Lambe was ejected for a reckless tackle from behind in the 56th minute.
That certainly did nothing to help the Reds’ comeback bid.
Flash forward to the 63rd minute, and Saad set the another goal in motion when he played a ball through to forward Kei Kamara in the box.
Kamara sent a one-time pass to midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who sent the ball wide to striker Claudio Bieler.
Bieler happily tapped his team-leading ninth goal of the season into an empty net, the final dagger in the most lopsided loss of the season for Toronto FC, 2-9-7.
Aurelien Collin thought he’d gotten in on the goal-scoring bonanza in the 76th minute when he finished off a pinball sequence by heading the ball into the right edge of the Reds’ net. But offside was ruled and the goal disallowed.
During the first 20 minutes, goalkeeping excellence kept the game scoreless.
Forward Claudio Bieler tested Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik in the 14th minute, forcing him to make a diving save to his right.
Four minutes later, Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen stonewalled a blast from 15 yards away off Jeremy Brockie’s right foot.
Nielsen then scrambled to his feet and stuffed Brockie’s rocket try off the rebound as well.
Before halftime, Benny Feilhaber nearly made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute, but Bendik closed down the space as Sporting KC’s midfielder collected a ball in the box and prevented Feilhaber’s second goal in as many games with a kick save.
Shortly after halftime, Bieler got a one-on-one chance with Bendik off a long Nielsen goal kick and flick-on by Kei Kamara.
Again, however, Bendik kept Toronto within a goal denying Bieler’s drive with a kick save in the 49th minute.
Two minutes later, Bendik gobbled up Chance Myers’ attempt to redirect a cross from Graham Zusi on frame, but it was only a matter of time before Sporting KC padded its lead.
Saad again did the honors when he added his second goal, hammering home a rebound to make it 2-0 in the 51st minute.