Three days after opening Livestrong Sporting Park with a scoreless draw, a shorthanded Sporting Kansas City squad returned to the road Sunday and rode red-hot Graham Zusi to a stunning 4-1 win against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.
Zusi, whose only career goal in 42 previous games came nearly a year ago to the day, scored two goals and set up the game-winner in the 49th minute as Sporting KC upset the second-place team in the Western Conference.
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“Both sides of the ball, he was very good and this is something we knew Zeus has in him,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “We've talked about it with him for a while and everything he has came out tonight.”
Zusi used a nifty cutback in the 28th minute to get the ball on his right foot and ripped a 20-yard rocket past FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who played in Kansas City from 2007-2009.
Forward Brek Shea carved up Sporting KC's back line for the equalizer only four minutes later, but the second half belonged to the visitors.
Four minutes after halftime, Zusi served a corner kick beyond the far post for C.J. Sapong, who centered the ball back to defender Aurelien Collin for the go-ahead goal.
Six minutes later, Zusi struck perhaps the goal of the year, beating Hartman with a knuckling free kick from 45 yards away for a 3-1 lead.
“To have the instinct to take the shot in that situation was incredible,” Vermes said. “First, it's the recognition by the player, but also the pace he put on that shot. It was one of the goals I have seen all year.”
Playing a man down after Milos Stojcev was sent off in the 57th minute, Sporting KC, 2-6-4, actually padded its lead in the 78th minute when Luke Sassano chipped his first career goal over Hartman's head.
The win snapped a 10-match winless streak for Sporting KC, which hadn't won since beating Chivas USA 3-2 in the season opener March 19.
Sporting KC played without seven of its regulars.
Stephane Auvray, Shavar Thomas and Roger Espinoza have national-team duty, starting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and Michael Harrington were suspended for cards and both Omar Bravo and Ryan Smith were unavailable due to injury.
“It's a credit to the guys on the field for being prepared when they got the opportunity tonight,” Vermes said.
“It was hot here and it was mostly in the sun the whole game, but the guys fought every roll of the ball. I'm extremely proud of the guys right now.”