Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber tumbled to the grass inside Rio Tinto Stadium late Sunday evening, the victim of a second foul in as many minutes. As he reached for the back of his leg, his teammates exchanged words and a few shoves with Real Salt Lake personnel.
A rivalry further fueled by Feilhaber’s midseason comments made for a chippy, foul-filled match Sunday evening In Utah.
And that gave way to a dramatic finish.
Real Salt Lake forward Olmes Garcia scored in the final minute to capture his club a 2-1 victory against visiting Sporting KC.
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A match that featured six yellow cards also provided the conclusion to Sporting Kansas City’s seven-game MLS unbeaten streak.
“I don’t think we matched their intensity for the game,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said in a phone interview after the match. “I think some guys did, but as a whole, we did not.”
Garcia was credited with the final goal, but Sporting KC defender Kevin Ellis deflected the shot over the head of keeper Tim Melia, who only a minute earlier made a sprawling save to keep the match tied.
Melia lost for the first time in seven starts with Sporting KC.
Forward Dom Dwyer supplied the lone goal for Sporting KC. His fifth score of the season countered an early goal from Real Salt Lake forward Sebastian Jaime.
Dwyer owned a quality attempt to put Sporting KC ahead early in the second half — which would have marked his first multi-goal outing of the season after he totaled five in 2014 — but Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando made a quick-reaction save to deny the chance.
As far as chances, Real Salt Lake owned the bulk of them. The club put seven shots on target, and it earned 16 corner kicks. Sporting KC had only four.
“I don’t necessarily know if we deserved a point tonight,” Vermes said. “With the aggressiveness they had going to our goal and the amount of saves Tim had to come up with to keep us in the game, (it) was far too many.”
But it made for an exciting, back-and-forth first half.
Three months after the two clubs played to a scoreless draw inside Sporting Park — a scoreline that was the product of Real Salt Lake’s bunker mentality —Jaime opened his MLS scoring account in the 15th minute, when he rose up above the Sporting KC back line to head a ball that nicked the crossbar before eventually crawling into the back of the net.
Dwyer equalized only 15 minutes later, when he finished a nifty touch from Benny Feilhaber, who was credited with his MLS-best eighth assist of the season.
Two months ago, Feilhaber drew the ire of Real Salt Lake players and fans when he said, “I’ve never liked Salt Lake.” He was booed on several occasions Sunday.
He responded with the first-half assist, but aside from Dwyer’s on-goal header attempt in the second half, Sporting KC was unable to replicate its threats after halftime.
It was nearly enough to earn a point anyway.
If not for the final minute.