A mixture of lightning and heavy rain engulfed Sporting Park on Friday, triggering a 77-minute weather delay between Sporting Kansas City and Houston. After the extended break, a budding rivalry resumed.
So did Sporting Kansas City’s home woes.
Houston broke a seven-game losing streak Friday in the unlikeliest of venues when it emerged from Sporting Park with a 3-1 victory.
Sporting KC dropped its second straight home match in front of the stadium’s 50th straight MLS sellout, which included 20,332 fans Friday. The club has won only five of its 14 home matches this season.
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“We’re in a rough patch right now. It’s a simple as that,” defender Matt Besler said. “We have to find a way to get out of it. We can talk about a lot of different things, but the bottom line is we have to come together and figure a way out of it.”
A week after manager Peter Vermes blamed his defense’s lack of organization for a 3-0 loss to D.C. United — a defeat that removed Sporting KC from its top billing in the Eastern Conference — he pointed to mistakes on set pieces.
Dom Dwyer supplied a game-tying goal in the 55th minute, his 17th of the season, but Houston quickly answered with two set-piece finishes in a five-minute span.
“That’s not what we’re about — the last two games,” Besler said. “It’s a feeling that I haven’t had — and a lot of these guys haven’t had — in over three or four years. And it’s not fun. Losing two games in a row at home is not fun.”
It stung a little deeper in a rivalry match.
Lightning produced the lengthy delay, which started in the 17th minute and lasted an hour and 17 minutes. It also produced some pent-up energy.
A fracas broke out in the 42nd minute when midfielder Benny Feilhaber shoved Houston defender Kofi Sarkodie, who immediately retaliated with a two-hand push that sent Feilhaber to the grass. Several players joined the melee before they were separated by referees. No punches were thrown.
Feilhaber and Sarkodie were issued yellow cards for their role in igniting the scrum. It will cost Feilhaber a chance to play against his former team. He will miss Sporting Kansas City’s match Wednesday in New England due to yellow card accumulation.
So, too, will Dwyer after he was shown a yellow card in the first half. Dwyer moved within one goal of the club’s single-season scoring mark. Preki scored 18 for the Kansas City Wizards in 1996.
It wasn’t enough.
Sporting KC bolted out of the delay and took control of the match, but Houston jumped on the scoreboard first nonetheless. Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin attempted to clear a cross, but his touch instead fell to Will Bruin, who had no problem firing his 10th goal of the season into the back of the net. Bruin suffered an apparent leg injury on the play and left the match four minutes later.
Houston marched on just fine without him. It connected on a pair of set pieces started by captain Brad Davis. David Horst headed the first one home in the 62nd minute before Ricardo Clark repeated the task only five minutes later.
“It’s not major things that are happening in the game. It’s just soft goals,” Vermes said. “Three soft goals. It’s the same thing that it was last week.”
Sporting Kansas City will leave Sporting Park for a three-game road trip — perhaps a welcome one — that begins Wednesday in New England. The club has won seven of its 12 road matches this season, including five of its past six.
“We need to be confident. We need to play like we’re the defending MLS Cup champions,” Besler said. “We need to play like the team we have for most of this year.”
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