Trailing by a goal at halftime, Sporting Kansas City salvaged a draw Sunday against the Houston Dynamo at Sporting Park on forward Kei Kamara’s first goal since returning to the club.
Kamara, who has now played 116 minutes in four appearances since returning from a three-month loan to Norwich City of the English Premier League, beat Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall with a left-footed roller inside the right post in the 68th minute, allowing Sporting KC to grab a 1-1 draw.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Sporting KC forward Jacob Peterson said. “First half, we weren’t good enough. We didn’t play with the sense of urgency that we needed to. Sometimes that happens, but I think we responded well in the second half. We created some good opportunities and, at the end of the day because of the poor first half, we got the result we deserved.”
One week after having a goal disallowed by a blown offside call in a 1-1 draw at D.C. United, Sporting KC, 6-4-4, was spared by a different assistant referee, whose input took away a penalty kick for the Dynamo in the 39th minute.
Midfielder Brad Davis was making a run into Sporting KC’s penalty box when Oriol Rosell slid in from the right side with a desperate challenge, tackling the ball away and simultaneously sending Davis sprawling.
Referee Drew Fischer, who moments earlier had whistled two quick fouls on Sporting KC roughly minute apart, signaled for a penalty kick as coach Peter Vermes and the crowd of 20,876 — the third largest in Sporting Park history for an MLS match and the club’s 23rd consecutive sellout — erupted.
“It was no penalty kick,” Vermes said. “Thank god that the other guys got involved. The assistant referee on the other side and I believe the fourth official got involved as well. They talked him off the ledge there, because there was absolutely no penalty kick and he was making something up.”
After consulting with assistant, Kevin Duliba, waives off the penalty.
“Upon consultation with the remainder of the referee crew, we determined that a foul had not been committed,” Fischer said. “From my angle during live play, it appeared as though the Sporting Kansas City player tripped the Houston Dynamo player, (but) from Duliba’s angle, it appeared as though the Sporting KC player won the ball and did not foul the Dynamo attacker.”
Sporting KC’s reprieve, however, didn’t last long.
During the first minute of stoppage time, the Dynamo broke through when forward Giles Barnes flicked on a long restart from Houston’s half, which Will Bruin collected before holding up play as Davis streaked into the box.
Bruin made a quick turn and played the ball forward to Davis, who did the rest by slipping a ball between Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and the near post with the outside of his left foot for a 1-0 halftime lead.
“We had a couple chances there with the late runs coming out of midfield and that one paid off for us,” Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said. “It was a great time to score, right before halftime, and gave us confidence and a little bit of a bounce in the locker room.”
Twenty-three minutes into the second half, Kamara evened things off a square ball from forward Claudio Bieler.
Kamara, who moved alone into fifth place with 32 career goals for Sporting KC, took one touch left and then ripped a shot around a pair of Houston defenders, leaving Hall no time to react.
“It feels great, obviously, to score against your former team,” Kamara said. “The goal, for it to be important like that for my team to get a point from it, it’s big and you’ve got to enjoy it.”
Peterson, who nipped the ball to Bieler with a step-over move, was credited with a secondary assist on the equalizer.
Eight minutes after knotting the game, Kamara, who was traded from Houston to the then-Wizards in 2009, nearly put Sporting KC in front with a powerful header off an in-swinging restart by Zusi that Hall pushed inches over the crossbar.
Paulo Nagamura’s sliding tackle against rookie Jason Johnson in the 94th minute snuffed out Houston’s best chance to retake the lead.