Seven weeks into the season, the list of undefeated teams in Major League Soccer has been trimmed to one.
And it longer features Sporting Kansas City.
FC Dallas dealt Sporting KC its first loss of 2017, a 1-0 defeat Saturday inside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Sporting KC, which fell one match shy of tying the second best start to a season in franchise history, had not even trailed in its initial six matches. The first deficit lasted until the final whistle Saturday against last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners, who now stand as the lone undefeated team in MLS.
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“We’re not walking away (saying) we played poorly,” coach Peter Vermes said in a phone interview after the match. “(But) I think that we could’ve been a little better in our play.”
In the span eight days, a pair of flights to contrastive segments of the country offered Sporting KC opportunities. It had the chance to show its mettle in the Western Conference, to prove its first-rate start to 2017 was no fluke.
It escaped the first one unharmed last weekend in Portland. Tim Melia attempted to shepherd Sporting KC (3-1-3) through the second one Saturday — making five saves before Maynor Figueroa finally broke through in the 77th minute on a back-post header.
“He continues to perform at a high level,” Vermes said of Melia. “I think we just could’ve done better on that goal and tried to help him a little.”
The result was probably fitting, even if the timing of the goal wasn’t. FC Dallas (4-0-2) put six shots on target compared to just one from Sporting KC. Ironically, five of those came in the opening half, when Sporting KC kept the shutout.
That allowed its defense to settle into the game after halftime, but it left Figueroa unmarked on the far side of the field. He got on the back end of a pass from Michael Barrios. It was FC Dallas’ first shot on target in the second half.
“I thought one play, one game, one something would change the game,” Vermes said. “Otherwise, it would end 0-0, because we were just kind of going back and forth at each other.”
Sporting KC played on its heels in the initial 45 minutes. It conceded nine shots in the opening half — more than it allowed in three of its first six full matches this year.
A week ago at first-place Portland, Sporting KC asked Melia to make a huge save to preserve a shutout victory — a stop against Portland’s Darlington Nagbe that was selected as the league’s save of the week. On Saturday, it asked him to make several stops, even if none required the same effort. Melia was credited with five saves in the opening half alone.
Sporting KC returns home next weekend for a match against rival Real Salt Lake, igniting a string of six matches in 22 days.
FC Dallas 1
Sporting Kansas City 0
KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Seth Sinovic, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber (Soni Mustivar, 72nd), Jimmy Medranda (Daniel Salloi, 81st), Ilie Sanchez, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Gerso Fernandes (Latif Blessing, 84th).
DALLAS: Jesse Gonzalez, Maynor Figueroa, Hernan Grana, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmermann, Kellyn Acosta, Carlos Gruezo, Roland Lamah (Atiba Harris, 86th), Javier Morales (Victor Ulloa, 85th), Tesho Akindele (Michael Barrios, 72nd), Maximiliano Urruti.
Kansas City: None.
Dallas: 1, Figueroa (Barrios, Grana), 77th minute.
Shots on goal
Kansas City: None.
Referee: Kevin Stott.
Assistant referees: Eduardo Mariscal, Craig Lowry.
Fourth official: Ted Unkel.