The drought is over for Sporting Kansas City.
By SAM MCDOWELL
Special to the Star
Maybe all it took was a little bit of rain on the road.
After an afternoon storm in Montreal, Sporting KC poured in three second-half goals and pulled away for a 3-1 victory against the Impact on Independence Day at Saputo Stadium in Montreal.
Sporting KC overcame a 1-0 deficit — and ended a 319-minute dry spell in the process — in notching its first road win since April 18 in Vancouver. Sporting moved back into second place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind leader D.C. United.
“Winning on the road is not an easy feat in the MLS,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said by phone. “We hung in there. We didn’t have the best of first halves, but we stayed faithful.”
Faithful and fortunate.
Kei Kamara ended the scoring drought with a penalty kick in the 55th minute, given to Sporting KC after a Montreal hand ball in the goalie box. Kamara’s goal — his team-high sixth of the season — answered a goal 8 minutes earlier by Impact forward Patrice Bernier.
Sporting KC, 10-5-2, which ended a two-game losing streak in MLS play, dominated possession after the equalizer. The team was able to turn that control into another penalty-kick goal, this one from Graham Zusi in the 75th minute. Montreal defender Davy Arnaud, a former standout for KC, was whistled for tackling Soony Saad during a battle in the goalie box, setting up Zusi’s game-winner.
Substitute Jacob Peterson put the game away with a rifle past Impact keeper Donovan Ricketts in the 82nd minute.
Montreal, 5-11-3, heavily disputed both penalty-kick calls — and fans began throwing objects onto the field, halting play for a couple of minutes. But Vermes said the correct call was made each time.
“It was justice. Both goals were deserving,” Vermes said. “We probably should’ve gotten a couple of more penalty kicks in the first half. They were grabbing and pulling us every time we were in the box. They owed us one.”
And Sporting KC owed Montreal one. The Impact left Livestrong Sporting Park with a 2-0 victory on May 5.
Sporting hadn’t forgotten. Its second-half performance came from a motivated group after a lackluster first half.
“Absolutely, we talked a lot about that word revenge,” Vermes said. “We wanted that. It was important for us to steal the points back from them and get even.”
Sporting KC goalie Jimmy Nielsen kept the door open for a win with four saves in the first half, three from point-blank range. Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio broke past Sporting KC’s defense three times in the first 30 minutes but misfired once and was twice stoned by Nielsen. Nielsen finished with five saves.
“You go to sleep easier at night having a solid keeper in net,” Vermes said. “He made the saves when we needed them to keep us in the game. He’s just a steady guy for us.”