Monday, June 24, 2013

Late goals force Sporting KC to settle for draw

Sporting Kansas City settled for a 2-2 draw at FC Dallas on Saturday with their sixth result on the road in eight away matches this season.

Kei Kamara's first half penalty kick and an own goal from Je-Vaughn Watson off a Graham Zusi corner kick had Sporting KC ahead 2-0, but FC Dallas rallied with goals in the 88th and 90th minutes to extend their home unbeaten streak to a club-record 13 matches.

Sporting Kansas City remains in third place in the Eastern Conference and will play three of their next four matches at home, including each of the team's next two fixtures.

Jimmy Nielsen made four saves on Saturday and was called into action in the second minute of the match, collecting a free kick taken by David Ferreira that missed its intended target but curled on frame.

On the opposite end, Sporting KC started strong with three shots in the game's opening eight minutes. Claudio Bieler's side volley went wide at the six-minute mark and two minutes later, Graham Zusi settled with his chest but couldn't direct the volley on target.

FC Dallas continued to be dangerous from set piece opportunities as Nielsen tipped Michel's free kick effort over the bar in the 11th minute.

The home side threatened again in short succession with a well-struck service from Zach Loyd finding Kenny Cooper at the far post. The striker left his feet for a diving header which beat Nielsen but struck off the post.

In the 27th minute, Sporting KC was saved by the woodwork again on a free kick from Ferreira. An alert Chance Myers was there to clear the ball from danger as it caromed off the post and crossed the goalmouth.

Three minutes before halftime, Sporting KC won a penalty kick when Andrew Jacobson was whistled for pulling down Aurelien Collin during a scramble inside the box. Kamara stepped to the spot and converted the attempt in the 43rd minute to grab the 1-0 lead with his second goal of the season.

George John's header in the second minute of first half stoppage time came close to equalizing but FC Dallas entered the locker room trailing for only the second time this season after 45 minutes.

The second half started with little lull in the action as both teams exchanged scoring opportunities in the opening minute. Nielsen stopped Watson's attempt from outside the box and moments later Kamara shot wide.

John proved to be a threat in the air again in the 55th minute, winning a header from Michel's corner and directing it narrowly above the crossbar. However, it was a Sporting Kansas City corner kick that led to the game's second goal.

In the 57th minute, Zusi's well-struck service was inadvertently turned into the back of the net by Watson, who was stationed inside the six-yard box. The goal was Sporting Kansas City's third from a corner kick this season and the first allowed from a corner kick by FC Dallas.

Despite going down two goals, FC Dallas signaled their intent to fight their way back into the match in the 65th minute with a well-struck shot from Cooper on the left side that was pushed away by Nielsen. The momentum in the match then turned in the 68th minute when referee Mark Geiger sent off C.J. Sapong after a collision with Jacobson.

The FC Dallas midfielder remained on the ground and with the ball played back in his direction by a teammate, Sapong's foot made contact with the ball moments prior to it hitting Jacobson's right arm. Geiger -- who whistled 37 fouls on Saturday, second most in an MLS match this season -- immediately showed the red card.

Sporting KC did well not to concede a shot in the ensuing 10 minutes and kept FC Dallas from flooding numbers forward as goalkeeper Raul Fernandez was forced into two saves; first on an effort from Kamara in the 77th minute and five minutes later on a shot from Lawrence Olum that earned a corner.

Matt Besler came up big defensively for Sporting KC to deny Cooper, who threatened inside the area in the 78th minute, and second-half substitute Blas Perez sent his header high of goal on a cross from Ramon Nunez in the 79th minute.

The game's late drama began in the 88th minute as FC Dallas cut the lead in half through Jacobson with his third goal of the season. WIth five FC Dallas players inside the box, Nunez sent in a cross from the left corner of the penalty area. Jacobson, with his back to goal, flicked a header that arched over the reach of Nielsen and inside the far post.

FC Dallas then drew level in the 90th minute on Ferreira's free kick from the right sideline. Rookie Walker Zimmerman, a first round draft pick out of Furman, won the header six yards out and powered his header off Nielsen's head and across the line for his first professional goal in stunning fashion.

The home side had two looks at a game-winning goal in stoppage time. Cooper's long-range strike skipped narrowly beyond the far post before Jackson's last-ditch effort went well wide in the game's final minute to leave the teams level at 2-2 in their only meeting of the 2013 regular season.

Sporting Kansas City returns home to host the Columbus Crew at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, June 29th at Sporting Park.

Tickets, including standing-room only tickets, are available online at and at the Sporting Park Box Offices.