Elation quickly gave way to consternation for Sporting Kansas City in the closing minutes of the first half Wednesday in Houston.
Making its inaugural appearance at BBVA Compass Stadium, Sporting KC seemed to be a step behind the Dynamo during the first 30 minutes of a key Eastern Conference clash and fell behind by a goal.
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No sooner had Sporting KC drawn even, seizing the momentum with Kei Kamara’s 42nd-minute penalty kick, midfielder Peterson Joseph was ejected for a reckless challenge from behind against forward Calen Carr.
“Going into the locker room down a man, obviously that changed everything,” Sporting KC manager Peters Vermes said by phone. “On the PK, I don’t understand how there was no card on that play then we lose a man on a tackle in the open field. I haven’t seen the replay, so I can’t comment on it, but that’s a big difference in the game.”
With Sporting KC playing down a man for the second half, there was an air of inevitability from that point on to the Dynamo’s 2-1 victory.
“It’s unfortunate, because the guys were locked in and they were fighting for everything,” Vermes said. “We held them off for almost the whole half. The guys were doing very well and it’s not easy in this heat on the road like that.”
Carr, who started for the first time in a month, got the last laugh too, notching the game-winning goal in the 79th minute as Houston, 8-5-7, improved to 6-0-3 in MLS play at its new stadium.
Houston dominated possession from opening whistle.
Playing the finale of a three-game road trip, Sporting KC, 11-6-3, went down a goal in the 25th minute as Dynamo forward Will Bruin dribbled through a quartet of defenders in the box and found Carr, who rolled a shot past Aurelien Collin and beat Jimmy Nielsen at the far post to snap a 334-minute shutout streak across all competitions.
Sporting KC, which remains in first place one point ahead of the New York Red Bulls, caught a break and fought back into the game in the 41st minute when Joseph found Kamara wide with space on the right flank. He sent in an early cross for Jacob Peterson, who bolted inside Andre Hainault and forced the Dynamo defender to drag him to the ground for a penalty kick.
Kamara equalized with his team-high seventh goal of the season, freezing Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall with a blast into the right side of goal, but those good vibes were erased in the second minute of stoppage time when Joseph was shown the red card.
Houston retook control with the man advantage.
During the 54th minute, Bruin and Carr nearly combined for another go-ahead goal on an eerily similar combo sequence.
Barely 10 minutes later, Brad Davis took a rip at the lead on a free kick, which midfielder Paulo Nagamura deflected high and toward the upper left corner of Sporting KC’s goal.
Nielsen managed to whack the ball of the goal frame to keep the game level at 1-1, but that didn’t last long.
Left back Seth Sinovic had to be subbed off with a sprained left ankle in the 79th minute, which shifted Michael Harrington to the left side as Chance Myers came on at right back.
Davis immediately attacked Myers’ flank and threaded a pass through a host of Sporting KC defenders for Carr, who delivered his second goal of the night and second of the season with an awkward redirect.
“(Sinovic) got injured, so he had to come off,” Vermes said. “We had no choice. I don’t know how much of an impact it had, but it’s a shame.”
Coming on in the 82nd minute, Bobby Convey returned to the field for the first time since May 19 after Peterson appeared to aggravate an ankle injury he suffered four days earlier in Columbus.
Sporting KC was without Roger Espinoza, who left Sunday for the Olympics, and Graham Zusi, who missed a second straight game with a quad strain.