It felt like it just was not going to be Sporting Kansas City’s day. A few miscues messed with their rhythm. An injury. Possession but no fruition. And a two-goal deficit at home to a surging FC Dallas. Then Johnny Russell’s goal cut that lead in half in the 53rd minute. As Sporting lifted their effort entire, a result seemed to be coming.
Sporting Kansas City (6-3-2) came into the match off their first win – 1-0 at home over Minnesota United FC last Sunday – after two losses and two draws, while FC Dallas (4-2-4) had put together back-to-back triumphs. However, Kansas City had the upper hand sitting at second in MLS’s Western Conference with Dallas at fourth. The only season meeting between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw despite a 22-5 shot margin for Sporting in Kansas City September 2.
With a lineup unchanged from the Minnesota victory, Sporting started quick with right winger Johnny Russell firing off the first shot on goal in the 2nd minute at Dallas’ goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer’s near post. Kansas City netminder Tim Melia was called on similarly two minutes later.
The post was called on in the 10th minute. On an attack that went from left to right back to left again, the ball ended up on Gerso’s foot eight yards out past the back post. The sneaky winger’s shot was deflected and careened off the front post before eventually being swept out of trouble.
After the first quarter-hour, shots were even, yet FC Dallas had a 3-1 edge in shots on goal. Sporting, playing the buildup, had the lion’s share of possession. But in little moments, the home side seemed to be having one of those days: a botched throw-in by Graham Zusi’s slippery hands, a corner given by an absent-minded Roberto Puncec, and a slip in the box while a Sporting player tried to counter.
And the miscues manifested in a missed chance. A Khiry Shelton knock down from a flighted Luis Martins cross from the left found Gerso invitingly open inside the 6. The ball bounded close and Gerso countered with a half-volley that went high. Though a more difficult chance than it looked, it felt like the opener.
Sporting would be cracked open soon. John Nelson sent a curling cross into the 6-yard box where three Dallas players awaited. It was Franco Jara who pile-drived horizontally to put the ball past Melia for the lead in the 42nd minute and on into halftime.
Ilie Sanchez returned to the lineup for the first time since July 30th at the start of the 2nd half as Gerso exited. The move pushed Gianluca Busio into a more advanced role, with Shelton going to the left wing and Gadi Kinda taking his striker role. Shortly after, Martins was replaced by Amadou Dia after Martins was injured in a tackle.
Sporting’s fortunes dwindled further. After the ball pinged around from a Dallas corner, Jara became the benefactor, and he squibbed a low shot past Melia in the 48th minute for a two-goal lead.
A reeling Kansas City needed an injection of good. Russell delivered. Busio’s corner fell back for the Scot in the 53rd minute. Near the spot, Russell drew back his left and drilled a shot off the left post and in to shine a light on the possible.
Sporting now came at the Dallas with lifted spirits and high intensity from a high press. Though the home side forced a number of corners and a free kick, nothing was enough to level. Melia, ever the ready, went down to save from a Michael Barrios streaking behind the defense in the 74th minute to keep the match within reach.
It was time for Part II. Dia earned a free kick a hint outside the left corner of the Dallas box in the 83rd minute. Busio stepped up and delivered a drive for the scrum at the six. Russell rose best and directed the aggressive delivery past Maurer to level the match to a roar of approval from the crowd.
That roar, however, was soon quieted. Recovering the ball in his own end with his back to the field, right back Zusi played the ball back lightly for Melia. Unbeknownst to Zusi, Barrios had kept running forward and latched onto the pass. Melia saved valiantly again, but Ryan Hollingshead was there to capitalize on the rebound as a visibly upset Zusi put his head in hands.
Sporting will look to rebound Wednesday evening when hosting Orlando City.