Sporting Kansas City stumbled to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of rivals Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
Jimmy Medranda fired Sporting KC ahead with a sensational long-range effort in the 33rd minute, but Houston responded with a pair of goals in the second half to deny Sporting KC the point it needed to clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Despite Wednesday’s loss, Sporting KC remains in second place in the Western Conference with two matches still to play – two points ahead of the fifth-place Dynamo, who will visit Children’s Mercy Park at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the second of back-to-back matches between the teams.
Sporting KC’s regular-season home finale will air live on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest, and a limited number of tickets are available via SeatGeek.com.
Manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the Sporting KC lineup from Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Minnesota United FC. Diego Rubio made way for Daniel Salloi in attack, while goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra earned his first start for the club in place of the injured Tim Melia.
Houston extended its regular-season unbeaten run against Sporting KC to seven matches on Wednesday, but not before falling behind shortly after the hour-mark on a jaw-dropping strike from Medranda.
The 23-year-old Colombian received a cutback pass from Saad Abdul-Salaam and one-timed a 30-yard belter with the outside of his left boot, the ball bending away from Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric and nestling low into the far left corner.
Dykstra was forced into action not long later, doing well to tip Tomas Martinez’s long-range blast over the woodwork. The Dynamo threatened again seven minutes before the break when Vicente Sanchez hammered Andrew Wenger’s delicious cross onto the frame of the crossbar.
Salloi came close to doubling Sporting KC’s lead on the cusp of intermission, latching onto the end of a loose ball in the box, but his shot lacked the direction to beat Deric.
Houston survived yet another scare in the 53rd minute when Roger Espinoza found Gerso with space on the right side of the box, but the ensuing attempt was palmed away by Deric.
Houston gained a foothold over the final 30 minutes, as Ricardo Clark and Mauro Manotas both volleyed narrowly high of frame in quick succession.
The hosts’ ascension ultimately drew them level in the 63rd minute when A.J. DeLaGarza’s cross from the right wing was cleared only as far as Martinez at the opposite post, and the Dynamo midfielder’s side volley beat Dykstra to restore parity.
Sporting KC fell behind in the 77th minute for the first time. Martinez’s in-swinging free kick was turned into the net by Erik Palmer-Brown for an unfortunate own goal, giving the Dynamo a 2-1 advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.
Vermes’ side had two opportunities to rescue a point in second-half stoppage time, but Seth Sinovic’s right-footed rocket was saved and Salloi’s strike from the top of the box glanced marginally over the bar.
– Story from Sporting KC