For a two-year span, the best defensive team in Major League Soccer called Kansas City its home. And in the process of allowing the fewest goals in the league from 2012-13, Sporting KC built MLS’ best record.
Three staples of that defense — Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers — shared the field together Saturday for the first time since May, 10 2014.
But on a night when the club hoped to regain its defensive success, it instead let a second-half lead fade for the second straight game.
Colorado defeated Sporting KC 2-1 on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
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For the second straight week, the loss was coupled with frustration stemming from a referee’s call — or lack thereof.
Sporting KC relinquished a second-half lead against Columbus last week when the refereeing crew missed an apparent offsides call that should have negated a Columbus goal.
On Saturday, it was a missed handball that led to Colorado’s first goal. Vicente Sanchez fell with his arm on the ball before dishing a pass that set up the Rapids’ first score.
“Did we deserve more in the game? Yes,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “Because the other team didn’t beat us. The impartial guys who are reffing the game, they are the ones that beat us.”
Colorado striker Kevin Doyle headed in the game-winning goal in the 77th minute, handing Sporting KC its first three-game losing streak of the season. Colorado keeper Clint Irwin twice denied Dom Dwyer in the 87th minute.
The Rapids, who entered the day sitting in last place in the Western Conference, defeated Sporting KC for the first time since 2009, a streak that spanned 13 meetings. Colorado, the league’s worst-scoring team only added to the recent defensive struggles for a Sporting KC club that has allowed 13 goals over its past four matches.
Dwyer opened the scoring in the 47th minute, but Colorado answered with the equalizer from Maynor Figueroa — a play that could have been negated by a handball earlier in the sequence.
“(Sanchez) goes down and grabs the ball with his hand right in front of the (assistant referee), the fourth official and the center referee, and the (handball) is not called,” Vermes said. “So they run in with the ball because the guy gets a second bite of the apple, and he goes in and has a chance to score when everyone knows it’s a handball on the field. Everyone."
After Doyle had the go-ahead goal later in the half, Sporting KC, 11-7-7, couldn’t convert a prime chance to tie the match in the 87th minute, when Dwyer put a point-blank shot on target. Irwin made a quick-reaction save and then got a piece of the rebound — just enough to deflect it off the post.
The return of Sinovic, who missed more than three months with a concussion, was offset by an early injury to Myers. While chasing down a ball in the 23rd minute, Myers reached for his hamstring. He was replaced by Saad Abdul-Salaam.
The defense was tested by an early onslaught from Colorado — which lined up a wave of set pieces in the opening 20 minutes — but the Rapids didn’t turn any of them into a lead.
Instead, it was Dwyer who struck first, though Krisztian Nemeth did the heavy lifting. Nemeth worked through a give-and-go with Benny Feilhaber before maneuvering through the Rapids defense and laying off a pass to Dwyer. The Sporting KC striker snuck a hard shot into the near post, even though there wasn’t much room for it.
It provided a lead.
It couldn’t supply a victory.
Sporting Kansas City 1
KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia, Seth Sinovic, Chance Myers (Saad Abdul-Salaam, 24th), Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Mikey Lopez (Jordi Quintilla, 77th), Benny Feilhaber, Paulo Nagamura, Graham Zusi (Jacob Peterson, 84th), Dom Dwyer, Krisztian Nemeth.
COLORADO: Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Maynor Figueroa, Axel Sjoberg, Sean St Ledger, Sam Cronin, Marcelo Sarvas, Dillon Powers (Lucas Pittinari, 80th), Juan Ramirez (Dominique Badji, 62nd), Kevin Doyle, Vicente Sanchez (Nick LaBrocca, 89th).
Kansas City: 1, Dwyer 9 (Nemeth), 47th minute. Colorado: 2, Figueroa 1 (Sanchez), 53rd. 3, Doyle 4 (Sanchez), 77th.
Shots on goal
Kansas City: Abdul-Salaam (unsporting behavior), 34th; Sinovic, Sporting Kansas City (unsporting behavior), 60th.
Colorado: Sjoberg (persistent infringement), 58th; Sarvas (unsporting behavior), 72nd; Moor (time wasting), 90th.
Kansas City: None.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez.
Assistant referee: Greg Barkey.
Assistant referee: Danny Thornberry.
4th official: Ricardo Salazar.
Announced attendance: 16,480.