Sporting KC couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.
In just the second minute of the game, Felipe released Graham Zusi down the right side of the field with a perfectly placed long ball. Zusi ran it down just before the endline and sent the ball into the box, where Gerso was waiting with the final touch to put it into the back of the net to give SKC the early 1-0 lead.
As Sporting KC continued to dominate early, Krisztian Nemeth looked like he scored his first goal since May 19 in the 14th minute. Ilie calmly received a long ball from Luis Martins and sent the ball toward Nemeth in front of goal, who appeared to put it in for the goal; however, the official score shows the goal as a Tommy Smith own goal. Either way, SKC found themselves up two goals early.
Things soon started to go off the rails for Sporting KC. Matt Besler was shown a second yellow card for a reckless high kick in the 20th minute of the match, leaving SKC with just 10 men for the more than 70 minutes of the match remaining and forcing Ilie to drop back and play in the vacated centerback role.
Sensing an opportunity against a 10-man SKC side, Colorado began to threaten near the end of the half, finally pulling one back in the 42nd minute. Former Sporting KC striker Kei Kamara boxed out centerback Botond Barath in the box before sending a powerful bicycle kick past Tim Melia to pull the Rapids within a goal of SKC.
In the second half, Sporting KC knew they were likely going to have to bunker down for most of the final 45 minutes, picking and choosing their spots to attack on the counter.
As expected, the vast majority of the half was played with Colorado on the attacking foot. The rapids dominated possession, attempting to create chances to tie the game, but they initially had a hard time breaking down the 10-man SKC side.
With it beginning to look like SKC might escape with the full three points, Diego Rubio stepped up to a loose ball in the Sporting box that the defense had been unable to clear. The former Sporting KC forward forcefully put the ball past Tim Melia to pull the Rapids level at 2-2 in the 76th minute.
Nine minutes later, SKC’s frustrating night continued as Rapids centerback Tommy Smith rose high above the SKC defense to head a corner kick past Tim Melia to put Colorado up 3-2.
Despite some last ditch efforts, Sporting KC were unable to find a late equalizer, once again failing to secure a result at home.
After the loss, Sporting KC fell to 10th place in the West with just 37 points on the year. While they are not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, it would take a near miracle for SKC to jump any of the teams ahead of them.
On an individual level, these last three games of the season may prove as an audition of sorts for some Sporting KC players if they want to return to Kansas City in 2020. Peter Vermes is a coach known for casting aside players for lack of effort, and he surely will be watching which players will continue to fight and put in effort without much in the way of a postseason to play for.
Sporting KC next travels to Minnesota for a Wednesday night clash with the high-flying Loons, who sit in 3rd place in the West at the time of this writing. It won’t be an easy match for an SKC team that tends to struggle in Minnesota, but it’s another must win as Sporting KC’s 2019 season continues to cling to life support.