Goals from Lawrence Olum and Benny Feilhaber guided Sporting Kansas City to a much-needed 2-0 victory over FC Dallas on Sunday in the 100th MLS match played at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. (including playoffs).
Olum headed the hosts ahead late in the first half and Feilhaber buried a penalty kick on the stroke of halftime to secure three points on Father’s Day and vault Sporting Kansas City (6-8-3, 21 points) into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference table.
Meanwhile, second-place FC Dallas (8-5-4, 28 points) suffered its fourth straight defeat at Children’s Mercy Park in all competitions and failed to keep pace with the Colorado Rapids atop the Supporters’ Shield standings.
Peter Vermes passed Bob Gansler as the longest tenured manager in Sporting Kansas City history on Sunday, coaching his 271st match across all competitions. He made just one change to the starting lineup from Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup victory at Minnesota United FC as Tim Melia replaced Alec Kann between the posts.
In the second meeting between the clubs this season, a wild first half saw FC Dallas nearly grab the lead on multiple occasions. Sporting Kansas City’s first scary moment came in the 15th minute when Olum, making his 50th MLS start, played a stray back pass in the direction of Melia. The goalkeeper was forced to retreat at full sprint and slide to clear the ball off the line, denying the visitors a fortuitous opening goal.
A minute later, Fabian Castillo stole the ball from Ike Opara and stormed goalward before squaring to an open Michael Barrios. Melia made a splendid reflex stop to deny the midfielder from 15 yards out, and while Castillo slotted the ball into the net on the rebound, he was flagged offside and the match remained scoreless.
Feilhaber was on the end of Sporting Kansas City’s first scoring opportunity in the 26th minute, collecting a cutback pass from Saad Abdul-Salaam, shifting past Kellyn Acosta on the edge of the box and firing narrowly wide of the near post with his left foot.
The woodwork saved Sporting Kansas City twice in the span of a minute on the half-hour mark. Acosta’s far-post free kick was cushioned back into the middle by Atiba Harris, but a lunging shot from Matt Hedges near the six-yard area deflected off the crossbar and out of play. Thirty seconds later, Castillo bombed into the attacking third following a turnover and sent a side-footed effort onto the right post, where the ball then caromed safely into Melia’s hands.
Momentum shifted in the final stages of the first half. Jacob Peterson raced onto a superb ball downfield from Connor Hallisey and had only Chris Seitz to beat, but the FC Dallas netminder produced a fine kick save. Hallisey kept the ball alive on the rebound and again fed Peterson, who struck high and wide with two defenders closing on him.
A Sporting Kansas City free kick in the 43rd minute brought the game’s first goal. Feilhaber’s in-swinging delivery from just beyond the left corner of the 18 was glanced into the the net by Olum, who has now scored in both games against FC Dallas this season. It was his Olum’s fifth career goal in Sporting KC colors, while Feilhaber tallied his 40th assist for the club in all competitions.
Less than four minutes later, Feilhaber was involved in the incident that gave the hosts a penalty kick. Roger Espinoza’s feed into the box found the midfielder, who then went down under Harris’ challenge. Referee Jorge Gonzalez pointed to the spot and Feilhaber buried the subsequent attempt for his second goal of the week, following his successful penalty in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday.
Midfielder Soni Mustivar sustained a left quad contusion and was replaced at halftime by Kevin Ellis, pushing Olum into the defensive midfield position. After the restart, Supporters recognized a moment of silence in the 49th minute to recognize the victims of the shooting tragedy in Orlando last weekend.
The second half unfolded at a slower tempo as temperatures hovered in the mid-90s at a sunny and sold-out Children’s Mercy Park. Oscar Pareja’s FC Dallas side outshot Sporting Kansas City 10-1 in the final stanza, but not a single attempt was on target. The Texas club came closest to pulling one back in the 89th minute when substitute Mauro Rosales lofted a lovely ball downfield to Walker Zimmerman, a 6-foot-3 center back who had taken up an advanced role late in the contest. Zimmerman latched on the pass but directed his diving header inches wide of Melia’s righthand post.
After failing to keep a clean sheet in 10 straight MLS matches between mid-April and late May, Sporting Kansas City now has two straight shutouts and has conceded just one shot on goal during the stretch. Sunday’s defensive effort came against an FC Dallas outfit that ranked second in MLS with 24 goals entering the weekend.
Up next for Sporting Kansas City is a trip north of the border to face Montreal Impact on Saturday. Led by star striker Didier Drogba, Montreal (5-4-5, 20 points) is three points out of first place in the Eastern Conference but has lost its last four meetings to Sporting KC since the start of 2014. Saturday’s game will be televised live from Stade Saputo at 6 p.m. on Channel 38, KMCI and SKCTV.
– Story from Sporting KC