Monday, May 21, 2012

Sporting Kansas City settles for 2-2 draw in Colorado

Sporting Kansas City picked up the team’s first draw of the season on Saturday with a 2-2 road result at the Colorado Rapids behind two first-half goals from forward Teal Bunbury.

The Sporting KC striker, making his first start since the season opener, headed home a cross from Seth Sinovic 61 seconds into the match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and secured his second of the match in the 14th minute on a Matt Besler throw-in.

The Rapids responded in the second half with two goals in an eight-minute span as Tyrone Marshall and Kosuke Kimura each scored their first goals of the season on set piece opportunities.

Sporting Kansas City, 7-3-1, sits in third place in the Eastern Conference while extending the team’s unbeaten run to eight against the Rapids in MLS competition.

Bunbury opened the scoring on Saturday with the team’s fastest goal since Scott Sealy scored 36 seconds into a match, also against Colorado, on September 9, 2006. Graham Zusi’s cross-field switch found Bobby Convey along the left side and he played the ball into space for Seth Sinovic on the overlapping run.

Sinovic, back in the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a broken hand at Portland, sent in a cross from the end line for Bunbury to direct inside the far post with an unmarked header.

Colorado would threaten in the 12th minute, as Conor Casey capitalized on an errant pass from Aurelien Collin. The Rapids forward went for the chip from 20 yards out but Jimmy Nielsen stood his ground to thwart the attempt.

On the opposite end, Nielsen’s counterpart Matt Pickens came up big for the Rapids to deny Kei Kamara less than a minute later. The Sierra Leone international rose high to win an aerial challenge in the box and his well-struck side volley was met by a diving save from the Colorado goalkeeper.

Two minutes later, Bunbury buried his second on the night. Matt Besler’s long throw-in from the right sideline was contested between Pickens and Chance Myers, resulting in a rebound for the nearby Bunbury to poach into the empty net.

The goal marked Bunbury’s fourth straight at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park after tallying twice in a 2-0 win in the MLS Cup Playoffs last season and gave him his fourth career multi-goal game in MLS competition.

Having scored twice in the MLS Reserve League at Chicago last Sunday, Bunbury’s second goal gave him four in his last 27 minutes of action.

Nielsen made his second save of the match in the 25th minute to turn away Drew Moor’s attempt after coming off his line to punch away the Rapids service into the area.

The final 20 minutes of the opening half would be lacking in chances for either sides, but the same could not be said for the start to the second half for the Rapids.Seven minutes in, Colorado cut the deficit in half on a free kick from Martin Rivero.

The Argentine earned his team-leading fourth assist of the year on a delivery that found Marshall at the top of the six-yard box. He powered his header past Nielsen for the 17th goal of his 15-year MLS career.

Eight minutes later, the Rapids leveled the score in the aftermath of another set piece. Nielsen went low and to his right to keep out Jeff Larentowicz’s free kick from 25 yards out, but Casey kept the ball in play and pushed it across the goalmouth for Kimura.

The Japanese defender was waiting three yards out and directed it into the back of the net to complete the two-goal comeback.

Colorado would continue to test the Sporting KC defense, which was put on alert in the 86th minute when second-half substitute Edu whipped in a cross and Rivero snapped a header on frame that required a solid save from Nielsen.

Sporting Kansas City refused to go quietly in the game’s final moments. Zusi’s free kick curled high in the 88th minute from a dangerous spot outside the area and Lawrence Olum’s half-volley sailed high from the top of the arc.