In the final preparation before Sporting Kansas City took the field against the Montreal Impact on Saturday, coach Peter Vermes said he approached his striker, Dom Dwyer, and told him he needed to score a couple of goals.
Why? To move to the top of the league leader board.
He’s getting close now.
Dwyer scored twice Saturday — his second tally coming in the 89th minute — and lifted Sporting Kansas City to a 2-1 victory against the Impact at Stade Saputo in Montreal.
In helping Sporting KC extend its unbeaten streak to four matches, Dwyer moved into second place in Major League Soccer with 14 goals this season, one behind New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.
“If he continues this kind of form,” Vermes said. “Who knows how many he could score?”
A breakout season for Dwyer may very well include the Golden Boot award, given to the league’s top goal scorer at the end of the year. If it does, Dwyer will have the Montreal Impact to thank. He scored six goals during Sporting Kansas City’s three-game season sweep of Montreal.
The sixth tally came courtesy of some late-game magic.
C.J. Sapong, a second-half substitute, hustled to beat Montreal keeper Troy Perkins to a loose ball in the 89th minute, then knocked it off Perkins’ leg. The deflection reached Dwyer, who lobbed an ensuing shot into an open net.
“The bottom line is it all came through us pushing high up the field. We pushed them to make a mistake,” Vermes said. “The guys were swarming the game and getting into position. When you put pressure like that on an opposing team, you wind up creating opportunities for yourself.”
Dwyer struck last. He also struck first.
The first one came with help from captain Matt Besler, who returned to the Sporting Kansas City lineup for the first time since May 14. Besler launched one of his signature throw-ins toward the goalkeeper box in the third minute, which Dwyer headed home. He bypassed the selfie celebration he enacted last week — the one that drew international attention in following days — and quietly huddled with his teammates instead.
Montreal responded with a more focused transitional attack — leading to the equalizer in the 28th minute. Marco Di Vaio answered Dwyer’s header with a header of his own, sending a shot to the far post to beat goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. Montreal infielder Justin Mapp kept the play alive and picked up an assist.
Montreal continued its pressure over the remainder of the half, resulting in a strong chance from Andres Romero that required a quick-reaction save from Gruenebaum. The score remained tied for the next 60 minutes, setting up Dwyer’s game-winner.
“We all know we made a mistake on the goal we gave up,” Vermes said. “And they were determined to get one back.”
It came in support of Gruenebaum, who made his first MLS start of the season in place of Eric Kronberg, who broke a finger during training earlier this week. Kronberg will be sidelined for two months.
Sporting Kansas City concludes its two-game road swing with a trip to Columbus to face the Crew at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Columbus is tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.