The roots of bitter stretch can so often be dispersed, pointing fault in a series of directions. But sitting on the outside of the playoff line for the first time in a near-decade, Sporting Kansas City can find a primary culprit. A theme to place its blame.
Another hard lesson arrived Friday.
Sporting Kansas City let another last-minute lead slip away, allowing Toronto FC a late goal in a 2-2 draw Friday.
“If you want to play at this level, you have to know how to get results,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “We had the game. And we should’ve closed the game out.”
Jordan Hamilton scored in the 95th minute to tie the match — the third player to deliver Sporting KC an stoppage-time punch to the gut this season.
The trend dates back to the season opener. Los Angeles FC scored in the 94th minute to grab a 2-1 victory. Last month, Vancouver scored in the 94th minute to equalize a match.
The total damage: Five points on stoppage-time goals.
Sporting KC (3-5-7) sits three points shy of a playoff spot in the West.
On Friday, it inexplicably allowed Toronto FC a numbers advantage in the penalty area on the final sequence. Ryan Telfter didn’t exactly have to find a narrow seam to Hamilton on a crossing pass. In fact, he had options. Hamilton was simply the best one.
It prolongs another trend: Sporting’s opponents have scored the final goal of the game in seven straight matches. A week ago, Sporting KC allowed Houston to draw the match in the 68th minute.
When the club looks at the reasons for its standing during a 15-day layoff from MLS play, it can start there.
“Very frustrating. Very frustrating,” Vermes said. “A few guys sleeping in the game. Unfortunately, it has an impact. These last two games, we should have six points after those two games, and we don’t. That’s very frustrating. And it’s very frustrating for the guys who put so much into the game.”
Sporting KC has just one victory since March 30. Felipe Gutierrez put them within 90 seconds of a second. He scored twice from the penalty dot — one in each half for his fifth and sixth goals of the season — each time using Sporting’s best companion Friday.
The replay awarded him the second after Toronto midfielder Nick DeLeon tripped him the box. He grabbed the first in the 25th minute after referee Fotis Bazakos ruled Gerso Fernandes was fouled outside the edge of the box. He altered that thinking after replay.
With both teams absent several players due to international duties this week, Fernandes played with a cast on his left wrist to protect a broken bone that held him out a month. Vermes called him a difference-maker in the attacking third.
But not enough.
“Everything was good (initially),” Vermes said. “We got our actions; both penalties I thought we deserving. We played the way we wanted to play two weeks in a row, and unfortunately we come away with only one point (in each), which is the sad thing.”