On Oct. 26, 2014, in an MLS regular-season finale, the New York Red Bulls marched into Sporting Park, and their leading scorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips, stung the home team twice. With the two-goal output, Wright-Phillips celebrated tying a league record for goals in a single season.
Nine months later, that represents the last opponent to solve Sporting Kansas City inside its home venue.
After Saturday, that fact still stands. Barely.
Sporting KC trailed by two goals twice but fought back for a dramatic 4-3 victory against first-place Vancouver in front of an electric crowd of 19,969 fans at Sporting Park.
Paulo Nagamura delivered the game-winning goal in the 94th minute — and promptly stripped off his shirt in celebration — only 7 minutes after he scored the game-tying goal.
“I'm not sure what just happened,” forward Jacob Peterson said.
“We stole three points,” midfielder Benny Feilhaber said.
“We didn't win that game with great soccer or skill or tactics. We won the game with heart and (guts),” captain Matt Besler said.
It was, statistically speaking, the greatest comeback in Sporting KC history. The club had never won a game when trailing by two goals in the 80th minute or later.
The victory was as thrilling as it was unlikely. It came in front of a crowd that forward Dom Dwyer called the loudest in his tenure with Sporting.
Sporting KC trailed 3-1 in the 70th minute after Vancouver midfielder Pedro Morales converted a free kick, but Dwyer scored in the 81st minute to make it a one-goal game.
The comeback was on.
Nagamura took a pass from Chance Myers and blistered the back of the net, tying the match in the 87th minute. Sporting KC wasn’t finished. It continued to apply the pressure, and Nagamura headed home the game-winner.
And then he sprinted to the northeast corner of the field, ripped off his shirt and whipped it around his head.
“He’s a warrior. He’s a winner,” Besler said. “I wouldn’t expect anything less from that guy.”
Well, the style in which he converted the game-winner was a bit surprising.
After all, earlier this season, when Nagamura scored a game-winning header against Chicago, he called it the first successful one of his life.
His second one was even bigger.
“Definitely a special moment in my career,” Nagamura said. “It was a special day that I’ll probably never forget.”
The comeback ensured Sporting KC kept its unbeaten home record (8-0-4) alive, despite playing against the league’s best road team.
A big match in the standings, too.
Sporting KC pulled within three points of Western Conference-leading LA Galaxy and moved within two of Vancouver, which entered Sporting Park on Saturday as the league’s best team.
“There’s a ton of emotion involved,” Besler said. “It’s a high. Winning is always a high. But to win like that on your home field against a first-place team, it’s a major win.”
It won without its best effort.
Vancouver should’ve escaped it with three points. Or at least one.
Last October, it was Bradley Wright-Phillips.
On Saturday, it was Kekuta Manneh who struck twice. But on this occasion, it wasn’t enough for the visitors.
Manneh opened the scoring in the ninth minute and added another goal in the 41st minute, an dominant first-half effort that helped Vancouver cement its stature as the best road team in MLS.
Until the second half.
Kevin Ellis pulled one back for Sporting KC in the 55th minute to put the club on the board before Morales drilled a free kick to regain a two-goal cushion.
Sporting KC’s burst of three goals in 14 minutes helped the club tie its best offensive output of the MLS — even if it all came in one swoop.
“There's no doubt that the third and fourth goal are all because of the crowd,” Sporting coach Peter Vermes said. “The crowd is what is what pushed the guys on. They kept the faith, and the way they brought the energy, I think there's no doubt that it spilled on to the guys on the field.”
Sporting Kansas City 4
VANCOUVER: David Ousted, Tim Parker, Steven Beitashour, Jordan Harvey, Pa-Modou Kah, Gershon Koffie, Matias Laba, Nicolas Mezquida (Pedro Morales, 65th), Cristian Techera (Mauro Rosales, 60th), Octavio Rivero, Kekuta Manneh (Darren Mattocks, 74th).
KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia, Saad Abdul-Salaam (Chance Myers, 73rd), Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Soni Mustivar, Paulo Nagamura, Connor Hallisey (Jacob Peterson, 46th), Jimmy Medranda (Amadou Dia, 34th), Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, Krisztian Nemeth.
Vancouver: 1, Manneh 5, 9th minute. 2, Manneh 6 (Beitashour), 41st. 4, Morales 5, 75th. Kansas City: 3, Ellis 3 (Mustivar), 53rd. 5, Dwyer 8 (Nemeth), 81st. 6, Nagamura 2 (Myers, Feilhaber), 87th. 7, Nagamura 3 (Mustivar), 90th+.
Shots on goal
Vancouver: Laba (unsporting behavior), 64th.
Kansas City: Dia (unsporting behavior), 61st; Nagamura (delaying the restart of play), 90th+.
Kansas City: c.
Referee: Juan Guzman.
Assistant referee: Fabio Tovar.
Assistant referee: Peter Balciunas.
4th official: Nima Saghafi.
Announced attendance: 19,969.