Monday, April 27, 2015

Sporting KC rallies for dramatic 4-4 draw at Houston Dynamo with 95th-minute goal

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Sporting Kansas City rallied from a two-goal deficit with three goals in the final 20 minutes for a thrilling 4-4 draw at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

The eight-goal game equals the second-highest scoring MLS match in club history, a feat not seen since 1998, and was capped off by Benny Feilhaber's game-tying strike in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time.

Krisztian Nemeth opened the scoring in the game's second minute with his third goal in the past four games, while Dom Dwyer started the comeback with his second goal of the year in the 74th minute. Feilhaber, who leads MLS with five assists, then produced the first two-goal game of his MLS career and did so in dramatic fashion with a penalty kick in the 80th minute before a stunning half-volley from 25 yards out with less than two minutes remaining.

The action started early at BBVA Compass Stadium when Sporting KC defender Marcel de Jong dispossessed Kofi Sarkodie near midfield, allowing Nemeth to dribble at the Dynamo defense for 40 yards prior to unleashing a right-footed shot inside the far post just 120 seconds into the match.

The goal was the fourth earliest conceded by Houston at home all-time and Nemeth now leads the team with three goals in 2015, second most among all MLS newcomers.

Jalil Anibaba nearly doubled Sporting Kansas City's lead in the 8th minute with an attempt that flashed inches wide of the post and instead it was the Dynamo that drew level three minutes later on an opportunistic finish from Giles Barnes as both teams scored on their first shot of the game. The Englishman took the loose ball out of the air with a powerful first-time shot from inside the penalty area for his first of two goals on the night and in doing so snapped Houston's 385-minute scoreless streak at home against Sporting KC.

Dwyer - who has scored against Houston in four straight matches - threatened to put the visitors back ahead with two opportunities in as many minutes. His first effort rolled narrowly wide in the 23rd minute on a shot from 20 yards out and was quickly followed by a chance to hammer home a pinpoint pass from Feilhaber which went beckoning.

The Dynamo seized momentum moments before halftime with a goal off a corner kick in first-half stoppage time. Brad Davis' delivery found fellow St. Louis native Will Bruin at the near post and the fifth-year forward did well to direct his header inside the far post. Bruin's goal was his first of the season -- and first since a 3-1 win at Sporting KC last August in the teams previous meeting -- but 42nd career goal in all competition, passing Davis for second on the club's all-time scoring list.

The home side wasted no time in adding to their advantage at the start of the second half thanks to Barnes' goal 34 seconds into the stanza. The 26-year-old found a pocket of space between Sporting Kansas City's midfield and defensive lines then placed a bouncing shot past the outstretched arm of Luis Marin from nearly 30 yards out.

Nemeth came close to giving Sporting KC a lifeline in the 60th minute in a 1-on-1 situation with Tyler Deric courtesy of a through ball from Roger Espinoza. He slipped his shot under the outracing goalkeeper but wide of target under pressure from two recovering Dynamo defenders.

Sporting Kansas City's next shot would not come until the 74th minute, however it ended up in the back of the net as Dwyer capitalized on a poorly played pass from Barnes that was intended for Deric. Dwyer intercepted at the top of the 18-yard box and bounced back to his feet after the goalkeeper's challenge for a simple finish that sparked Sporting KC's late surge.

The stage was officially set for a frantic finish when referee Kevin Stott awarded a penalty kick to Sporting Kansas City in the 77th minute and dismissed Jermaine Taylor for handling a shot from Nemeth that had beaten Deric. Feilhaber stepped to the spot for the first penalty kick of his MLS career and calmly converted to leave the scoreline level at 3-3.

Despite going down a man, it was the Dynamo that responded with the go-ahead goal and it was again via a set piece from the left foot of Davis. The World Cup veteran delivered a dangerous free kick that connected with centerback Raul Rodriguez, who recorded his first MLS goal with a header at the near post. The assist for Davis was the 115th of his regular season career, moving past Carlos Valderrama for third most in MLS history and also tying Preki for the second most career assists in home matches with 78.

An undeterred Sporting KC squad, which fell on the road a week ago due to a decisive 94th-minute goal, reversed fortunes and rescued a valuable point away from home when Feilhaber provided the most impressive of the game's eight goals in the fifth of six minutes added onto the end of regulation. Zusi brought down Dwyer's deflected cross from the right flank with a soft header - earning his 50th career assist in all competition - that took three bounces before meeting the Brazilian's boot for an emphatic golazo from distance.

Entering Saturday, Houston had allowed only four total goals in their first seven matches of 2015 - including just one goal at home in four previous matches - and boasted the league's best goals against average with 0.57 goals allowed per game.

Conversely, Sporting Kansas City had won all 36 MLS matches (including postseason) in club history when scoring four or more goals prior to tonight's 4-4 draw.

The rivals, who have played 16 times since 2011, are now tied for fourth place in the Western Conference standings with 10 points and will meet twice more in the regular season (Aug. 1 and Sept. 23). Sporting Kansas City will now return home to host the Chicago Fire at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, May 3rd at Sporting Park in a nationally televised match-up on ESPN2.