Sporting KC falls to Dallas 3-2 on late error

Johnny Russell’s teammates ran to congratulate him after his second goal tied the match against FC Dallas. Dallas went on to win the game 3-2. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
 

by Brian Turrel

A late giveaway by Sporting Kansas City defender Graham Zusi cost the team its opportunity to retake the top spot in the MLS Western Conference. The 82nd minute goal by FC Dallas put it ahead 3-2, overcoming a second-half brace by Johnny Russell.

Franco Jara scored Dallas’s first goal in the 42nd minute, diving to head in a cross from defender John Nelson. He scored again just after halftime by knocking in the rebound off a Dallas corner kick.

Kansas City battled back from the two-goal deficit, with its halftime tactical and personnel changes paying off in scoring opportunities. To create more offensive action, head coach Peter Vermes brought in center midfielder Ilie Sanchez. Sanchez, missing from game action since Sporting left the MLS Is Back tournament in late July, got a warm reception from the fans.

Russell scored his first goal in the 53rd minute by sending back an attempted clearance off a Sporting corner kick. The ball zipped low just inside the left goalpost and gave Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer little chance of a save.

Russell struck again in the 83rd minute, redirecting a free kick from Gianluca Busio into the upper right corner of the net. After the game, Russell commended Busio’s assist.

“Busio strikes it great,” he said, “and any touch from us, Dallas players, or even if it misses everyone, is on target. With that power, it can always go in.”.

Russell’s enthusiasm after his score fired up the limited-attendance crowd with visions of a come-from-behind victory, but those visions departed moments later when longtime defensive standout Graham Zusi hit a weak back pass to goalkeeper Tim Melia.

With the ball stranded between Zusi and Melia, diminutive Dallas forward Michael Barrios seized the opportunity. Melia blocked Barrios’s attempt, but the rebound fell to forward Ryan Hollingshead to put away the winner.

Dallas’s delaying tactics late in the game drew the wrath of its opponents, the crowd, and the officials, who handed out four yellow cards for time-wasting. Dallas midfielder Bryan Acosta was also sent off in the 90th minute for a foul that earned his second yellow card of the match.

Even with the man advantage and six minutes of stoppage, Sporting wasn’t able to earn the equalizer, and a direct kick opportunity in the closing seconds was stopped by Dallas.

The loss, combined with Seattle’s Friday night win, drops Sporting KC to second place, jostling for playoff position in a crowded field. Sporting will play at home against Orlando City FC on Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Defender Graham Zusi went high to win a header. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Felipe Hernandez blocked an attempted clearance by Dallas defender Reto Ziegler. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Gerso Fernandes had an early one-on-one opportunity against the Dallas goalkeeper but his shot sailed over the bar. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Johnny Russell made a move to get past Dallas defender John Nelson. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Goalkeeper Tim Melia dived for a save in the 4th minute. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Johnny Russell scored on a Kansas City corner kick. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Dallas forward Michael Barrios intercepted a pass near the Kansas City goal to set up the game winner. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Defender Roberto Puncec restrained Barrios to clear the ball with a header. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Graham Zusi won a header near midfield. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

Russell’s late goal puts KC on top in West

Forward Johnny Russell put the ball inside the right post, past the reach of Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair. The goal proved decisive in the 1-0 victory over Minnesota United FC. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
 

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City put on a show of offensive dominance against Minnesota United FC, but it was all nearly for naught until Johnny Russell raced onto a long direct pass from Graham Zusi and buried it in the net in the 80th minute of Sunday night’s contest.

The win over their Midwestern rivals puts Sporting back on top of the MLS Western Conference standings after a four-game winless streak had dropped them to second behind the Seattle Sounders.

The rapid pace of Gadi Kinda and Gerso Fernandes up front helped Sporting create opportunities in the attacking half, and the defensive persistence of midfielder Felipe Hernandez kept Minnesota from advancing the ball cleanly.

Sporting held a 15-to-1 advantage on shots going into halftime, but hadn’t found the net. Manager Peter Vermes felt the team could break through if they stayed patient. After the game he recounted his halftime message to the team.


Vermes said, “The biggest thing that can’t happen is that we lose our discipline to our shape and we can’t get impatient with the fact that we’ve created a bunch of chances and we just haven’t put one in the goal yet.”

As the game neared the final minutes, Sporting found its winning opportunity in response to a rare burst of Minnesota offense.

Defender Matt Besler intercepted a Minnesota pass, heading it to Graham Zusi in the center of the field. Zusi spotted Russell sprinting ahead through Minnesota’s spread out defense and laid the ball into his path. Russell struck the ball low to the right corner of the goal, beating Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.

After the game, Zusi recounted, “I just curled it right down the middle of the field and let Johnny’s momentum take him into the path of the ball. He did the rest.”

The game was played before a limited audience of fans, but the offensive show on the field kept them at high volume throughout the game. Covid-19 protocols were in evidence throughout the stadium. One Sporting player tested positive earlier in the week, but the team has not identified the player.

MLS has announced their schedule through the end of September. Sporting will play at home on Sept. 19 against FC Dallas, quickly followed by another home match against Orlando on Sept. 23.

Forward Gerso Fernandes and Minnesota defender Bakaye Dibassy flew different directions after tangling over the ball. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair got to the ball a split second ahead of forward Khiry Shelton. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Johnny Russell pinned Edwards in the corner, winning a throw-in deep in Minnesota’s end. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Team captain Matt Besler’s golden armband celebrated MLS’s Kick Childhood Cancer campaign. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Felipe Hernandez hustled after a loose ball in the penalty area. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Minnesota defender Raheem Edwards sent midfielder Gianluca Busio to the turf. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Roberto Puncec contested a ball in the air against Minnesota forward Mason Toye. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Gerso Fernandes chested down a pass before turning up field. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Graham Zusi got a big hug from Johnny Russell after they connected for the game-winning goal. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Minnesota defender Chase Gasper headed the ball off the goal line away from midfielder Gadi Kinda. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Robert Puncec headed a ball out of the Kansas City end. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

Sporting draws Dallas, 1-1

Forward Khiry Shelton collected the ball near the penalty area, challenged by Dallas defender Reto Ziegler. Shelton scored Kansas City’s only goal in the 1-1 draw with FC Dallas. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
 

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City’s offense went on a tear of productivity on Wednesday night, generating 22 shots. Unfortunately, the Dallas defenders knocked aside so many of those shots that Kansas City settled for a 1-1 draw on their home field.

Dallas’s 14 blocks out of 22 shots (64%) was the highest percentage of blocked shots in an MLS game since 2014. Forward Johnny Russell, on the wrong end of five of those blocks, was frustrated.

“Everything we had seemed to be blocked,” Russell said after the game. “I feel like we created enough chances and just couldn’t get that final touch. That’s the most frustrating part — when you dominate a game that much and you don’t come away with the three points, kind of feels like a defeat.”

Dallas got on the board first, with a goal in the 9th minute. Bryan Acosta picked off a lackadaisical pass near the right corner of the Sporting 18-yard box and rolled it to Franco Jara charging up the middle. Jara chipped the ball over goalkeeper Tim Melia for his first MLS score.

Kansas City equalized the score in first half stoppage time. Gianluca Busio won the ball with a header in the midfield and played it forward to Khiry Shelton. Shelton cycled the ball through Felipe Hernandez and Gerso Fernandes before getting it back on well timed run into the Dallas box. Shelton punched the ball into the right corner past the dive of Houston goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck.

Sporting continued to pile up chances in the second half, and stayed aggressive throughout. Daniel Salloi, on as a substitute in the second half, got a particularly strong opportunity in the 60th minute, forcing Zobeck to make a diving save. However, the final whistle blew with the score still knotted at one apiece.

Sporting will play at the Houston Dynamo on Sept. 5, and then they’ll return home to face Minnesota at Children’s Mercy Park on Sept. 13. The Minnesota game completes the third phase of the MLS regular season. MLS is expected to announce plans for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs within a few days.

Forward Johnny Russell launched a shot at the Dallas goal from long range. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

The sun setting over western Kansas City, Kansas made a dramatic backdrop for the game. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Forward Khiry Shelton took a shot near the Dallas goal. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Blue smoke filled the north stands after Shelton’s goal. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Gianluca Busio won a header over Dallas midfielder Thiago Santos. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Matt Besler made a sliding tackle to break up a run by Dallas midfielder Michael Barrios. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Midfielder Felipe Hernandez broke up a pass by Dallas defender John Nelson. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defender Jaylin Lindsey controlled the ball near the midfield line. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)