Sporting Kansas City suffered a 2-1 loss at the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at PPL Park in the team’s final road match of the 2014 regular season.
Dom Dwyer extended his single-season club record with his 22nd goal of the season sandwiched between goals from Brian Brown and Pedro Ribeiro.
With a playoff berth secured, Sporting Kansas City sits in third place in the Eastern Conference and will determine its postseason seed when fourth place New York visits Sporting Park at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26, in the final game of the MLS regular season.
The match will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
The reigning MLS Cup champions were without eight players due to injury on Saturday, including designated players Matt Besler and Claudio Bieler. Additionally, manager Peter Vermes rested Graham Zusi after his recent return from the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Sporting KC outshot the Union in the first half on Saturday, but failed to test Zac MacMath with any of their seven attempts while the hosts put four of their six shots on target in the opening 45 minutes.
Dom Dwyer — looking to add to his 21-goal haul in 2014 — twice threatened, including a shot in the game’s fifth minute that carried just wide of the target.
Ten minutes later, the Englishman was behind the Union backline and took a touch around MacMath only to see his cross into the middle well covered by the recovery of Carlos Valdes.
Philadelphia came close to opening the scoring on multiple occasions before Brown’s go-ahead goal in the final moments of the first half.
Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger sent shots narrowly wide of net three minutes apart before Eric Kronberg made a pair of saves on Danny Cruz in the 15th minute. Kronberg’s best save of the night came in the 29th minute, coming 10 yards off his line to deny Maidana in the one-on-one situation.
After back-to-back clean sheets to open October, Sporting Kansas City’s 229-minute shutout streak came to an end in the 45th minute.
Vincent Nogueira forced a turnover in midfield and the Union capitalized on the counter when Brown smashed home a cross from Maidana with a first-time finish from inside the six-yard box. Brown — making his first MLS start — now has two goals in his 2014 campaign with both coming against Sporting KC.
Sporting Kansas City wasted little time in pulling level, earning a penalty kick seven minutes into the start of the second half.
Lawrence Olum dispossessed Nogueira 35 yards from goal, Paulo Nagamura picked out Saad with space on the left and the Lebanese international took a touch around the goalkeeper before being brought down. Dwyer converted the ensuing penalty kick, his seventh of the season to tie Preki (1996) for the club’s all-time single season record.
Dwyer now has 23 goals in all competition, a new single-season club record, with 22 coming in the regular season, second most in MLS and four more than the team’s previous single-season high set by Preki in 1996. The former first round draft pick has eight goals in his past nine MLS matches and is three behind Bradley Wright-Phillips in the MLS golden boot race.
MacMath made his only save of the night in the 57th minute, diving low to his right to turn away a shot from Soony Saad. The 2014 U.S. Open Cup runners-up then struck for the game-winning goal on the opposite end in the 71st minute.
Moments after entering the match as a second-half substitute, Ribeiro was left unmarked in the middle of the penalty area and collected a pass from Maidana before burying his shot into the back of the net from eight yards out. Maidana earned his second assist of the night and now has a team-best 11 assists on the season.
The Union might have been left to rue two missed opportunities — Ribeiro came close to a second in the 76th minute and Wenger was superbly stopped by Kronberg in the 82nd minute — to add to their lead, but a tightly marked Paulo Nagamura lifted his shot over the crossbar two minutes from full time on a night in which he made his 200th regular season start.
With the victory, Philadelphia improves to 7-4-6 under interim head coach Jim Curtin and moved up to sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Sporting Kansas City will now shift gears for a road match in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Thursday for the group stage finale in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League against Deportivo Saprissa. Sporting KC sits atop Group 2 with seven points and will advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year with a draw or win on Thursday.
- Story from Sporting KC