Sporting KC

Sporting KC lets lead get away in 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Updated: 2013-06-23T04:53:53Z

By ANDY FRIEDLANDER

Special to The Star

— Back at full strength at last, Sporting Kansas City was back on track, minutes away from an inspiring — and needed — road victory.

Then suddenly, shockingly, it all fell apart.

Sporting KC watched a comfortable two-goal lead evaporate into the hot Texas air as FC Dallas scored twice in two minutes to escape with an improbable draw Saturday night at FC Dallas Stadium, leaving Sporting disheartened, not to mention winless in MLS play since May 12.

“It’s deflating,” defender Matt Besler said. “The disappointing thing is we put in 88 minutes of hard work and stuck to the game plan and did everything almost perfectly. And then three minutes later, we’ve given up two goals.”

The turning point was a disputed red card shown to Sporting’s C.J. Sapong in the 68th minute, which left Sporting KC (6-5-5) down a man and gave Western Conference leader Dallas (8-3-5) hope.

The call after Sapong and Dallas’ Andrew Jacobson collided while contesting a header, and Jacobson fell to the ground in pain. As Jacobson was being attended to, a Dallas player kicked the ball toward the spot for the coming free kick. But the ball was headed straight for Jacobson and Sapong got his foot on it, he said, trying to deflect it away from the injured player. When the ball bumped Jacobson, referee Mark Geiger issued the card.

“It’s funny, I was actually trying to stop the ball from hitting him,” Sapong said. “The ref’s back was toward me. I don’t know if he thought I kicked him or I was sitting there and hit him with the ball.”

“I thought it was very soft, if anything. I don’t think we deserved a straight red. … For a straight red there has to be some kind of intent to injure or hurt a player, and my intent was completely opposite of that. … I don’t want to say too much, but I’m obviously unhappy about it. It changed the game.”

The difference turned out to be huge. Sporting KC was solidly in control, having scored on Kei Kamara’s 43rd-minute penalty kick — set up when Jacobson was called for grabbing Aurelien Collin’s jersey in the penalty area — and on an own goal in the 57th as Zusi’s corner kick deflected off Dallas’ Je-Vaughn Watson and into the net.

Even after the red, SKC’s defense was standing strong. Until the 88th minute, when Jacobson gave his club life with a nifty backward header off a feed from Ramon Nunez.

With momentum and the home crowd suddenly solidly behind it, Dallas took advantage and struck again almost immediately. In the 90th minute, rookie defender Walker Zimmerman raced in from the left, beating Kamara to the front of the net and heading in David Ferreira’s corner kick to even the score.

The tie left Sporting KC till looking for its first league win since stopping Houston’s 36-match winning streak almost six weeks ago — SKC is 0-1-3 in MLS and 1-2-3 in all competitions since then — and trying to focus on the positives after an agonizing finish.

“It was 88 minutes of lock-it-down soccer for us,” Zusi said. “Good stuff on the road. It is disappointing to not walk away with all three points, but we need to take what we did in those 88 minutes and try to take that out of this game instead of the disappointing aspects of it.

“We learned a bit about how we can play on the road and try to think about those 88 minutes of good soccer. Obviously, we have to learn from what happened there at the end. But we can take some positive out of it.”

Back at full strength at last, Sporting Kansas City was back on track, minutes away from an inspiring — and needed — road victory.

Then suddenly, shockingly, it all fell apart.

Sporting KC watched a comfortable two-goal lead evaporate into the hot Texas air as FC Dallas scored twice in two minutes to escape with an improbable draw Saturday night at FC Dallas Stadium, leaving Sporting disheartened, not to mention winless in MLS play since May 12.

“It’s deflating,” defender Matt Besler said. “The disappointing thing is we put in 88 minutes of hard work and stuck to the game plan and did everything almost perfectly. And then three minutes later, we’ve given up two goals.”

The turning point was a disputed red card shown to Sporting’s C.J. Sapong in the 68th minute, which left Sporting KC (6-5-5) down a man and gave Western Conference leader Dallas (8-3-5) hope.

The call after Sapong and Dallas’ Andrew Jacobson collided while contesting a header, and Jacobson fell to the ground in pain. As Jacobson was being attended to, a Dallas player kicked the ball toward the spot for the coming free kick. But the ball was headed straight for Jacobson and Sapong got his foot on it, he said, trying to deflect it away from the injured player. When the ball bumped Jacobson, referee Mark Geiger issued the card.

“It’s funny, I was actually trying to stop the ball from hitting him,” Sapong said. “The ref’s back was toward me. I don’t know if he thought I kicked him or I was sitting there and hit him with the ball.”

The difference turned out to be huge. Sporting KC was solidly in control, having scored on Kei Kamara’s 43rd-minute penalty kick — set up when Jacobson was called for grabbing Aurelien Collin’s jersey in the penalty area — and on an own goal in the 57th as Zusi’s corner kick deflected off Dallas’ Je-Vaughn Watson and into the net.

Even after the red, SKC’s defense was standing strong. Until the 88th minute, when Jacobson gave his club life with a nifty backward header off a feed from Ramon Nunez.

With momentum and the home crowd suddenly solidly behind it, Dallas took advantage and struck again almost immediately. In the 90th minute, rookie defender Walker Zimmerman raced in from the left, beating Kamara to the front of the net and heading in David Ferreira’s corner kick to even the score.

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