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.