The first Major League Soccer match at Sporting Park in six weeks featured the largest home crowd of the season, the return of United States national team member Graham Zusi and a selfie. Yes, a selfie.
But it failed to produce a winner.
Sporting Kansas City and Chicago played to a 1-1 draw Sunday afternoon in front of 20,858 fans at Sporting Park, the venue’s 45th consecutive sellout.
On a hot, sunny day, Sporting KC settled for one point and subsequently failed in its quest to return to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Instead, a pair of prolific goal scorers — Sporting KC striker Dom Dwyer and Chicago striker Mike Magee — traded first-half goals for the 1-1 final.
“I’d rather have three points,” Dwyer said. “I really wanted to keep a clean sheet today, so I was gutted when we allowed one. I thought we defended well throughout the whole game, so I’m a little disappointed there.”
Dwyer struck first with his 12th goal of the season — third most in team history for a single season. He stole the ball from Patrick Ianna, then curled a shot inside the left post in the 33rd minute.
The goal required spur-of-the-moment instincts. The celebration was pre-planned.
Dwyer swiped a cameraman’s phone, put his arm around teammate Soony Saad and snapped a selfie with the south stands serving as the picture’s backdrop.
“It was mentioned today, and I thought it sounded like quite a cool idea, so it was a bit of fun,” Dwyer said. “But I got a yellow (card) for it. I was lucky I didn’t get another yellow. I would’ve been in big trouble.”
Indeed, the celebration earned Dwyer a yellow card. It was also short-lived.
Magee, the reigning most valuable player in the MLS, tied the score seven minutes later, taking advantage of a mistake in the Sporting KC defense. There was no selfie afterward, but there was a bit of relief. Magee missed a couple of early quality chances — one of which clanked off the post — but beat a sliding Eric Kronberg for his third goal against Sporting KC this season.
“We obviously gave a goal away,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “We lose the ball, we’re a little stretched, and they get an easy tap-in basically.”
Magee converted two penalty kicks in his team’s 2-1 win against Sporting KC on May 18.
The latest goal Sunday ended Kronberg’s 281-minute shutout streak. The streak fell one minute shy of his career-high of 282 minutes, which he set earlier this season. Kronberg was awarded the MLS player of the month in June.
The two teams combined for seven shots on goal in the opening 45 minutes before Sporting KC outshot Chicago 5-1 in the second half. The home club also controlled 78.6 percent of the possession after halftime, though it didn’t result in a game-winner.
“Obviously we drove the game. I’d like to think in the second half (that) we made some really, really good opportunities at goal,” Vermes said. “We should’ve scored a second goal. No doubt in my mind.”
In his first MLS match since May 14, Zusi nearly set one up. After subbing into the match in the 61st minute, he created two corner kicks. Dwyer headed the second corner kick on target.
Prior to the match, Zusi and fellow United States men’s national team player Matt Besler received a standing ovation from the Sporting Park crowd. Besler did not dress Sunday.
“It was good to get right back into it,” Zusi said. “Instead of waiting awhile, I think getting the first one out of the way is a good thing. I would’ve loved to get the win. We were obviously going for it. But a point is a point.”