KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City’s nine-game unbeaten streak was on the ropes Saturday night, but Omar Bravo played the hero, heading in the tying goal in stoppage time to give the home team a second straight 1-1 draw.
Nick LaBrocca scored his team-high sixth goal of the season half an hour into the first half for Chivas USA, but Sporting’s relentless pressure finally paid off in the 92nd minute as Bravo beat the Chivas defense to a mis-hit clearance to put the ball past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
Sporting (5-6-7) are now unbeaten in 10 league games and 12 overall, while Chivas USA (5-7-7) narrowly missed out on their second win in a row after a midweek victory over San Jose.
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Bravo’s goal was his fourth this season, and his third in two games against Chivas USA. He scored twice in Sporting’s season-opening win at the Home Depot Center on March 19.
But the game-winner came only after Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy seemed more than able to salt the win away for the visitors. He made two incredible saves in the last 10 minutes to push away a rasping shot from Kamara as well as a well-placed header from Bravo.
But he couldn’t do anything about the tying goal as Besler knocked the ball forward, Birahim Diop and Aurélien Collin battled to help the ball on and Chivas’ bad clearance found Bravo at the far post for a simple header, sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy.
The game’s first real scoring chance came in the 12th minute when Sporting’s inability to clear their lines very nearly resulted in another highlight-reel goal for LaBrocca. As Chivas knocked the ball around the outskirts of Sporting’s penalty box, LaBrocca found himself unmarked with Jimmy Nielsen off his line and chipped a delicate shot over the goalkeeper and off the crossbar.
Sporting followed that near miss up with an opportunity of their own. C.J. Sapong came close to beating Dan Kennedy in the 26th minute when he latched onto the rebound from a corner kick, cut inside near the corner of the box and unleashed a curling shot that was just over the crossbar and nestled in the top of the net.
But, for the second straight game, Sporting found itself with an early deficit at home when Chivas put a nifty passing sequence together that LaBrocca finished off in the 30th minute. Ben Zemanski and Justin Braun both split the Kansas City defense with precise passes, and LaBrocca side-footed the ball into the bottom left corner to give the Goats a first-half lead and his third goal in as many games.
LaBrocca’s six goals already this season are a career-high, and one more than his career total entering the year.
That goal and some lackluster play prompted a change from Sporting manager Peter Vermes, as he brought on Kei Kamara for the Stojcev in the 38th minute. Kamara nearly found Bravo with a low ball across the box minutes later, but the half still ended 1-0 to the visitors.
Vermes made another change to start the second half, replacing Júlio César with Luke Sassano, but it was LaBrocca and Chivas that nearly tacked on another goal early in the second stanza. Unfortunately, Marcos Mondaini couldn’t get out of the way of LaBrocca’s shot and blocked his teammate's goal-bound effort.
That was followed up by a moment of controversy as Sporting had a penalty appeal waived off in the 59th minute. Bravo appeared to have made his way past Michael Lahoud at the edge of the penalty area before going down awkwardly, but referee Jasen Anno deemed it a legal challenge much to the chagrin of the home crowd.
CHV -- Nick LaBrocca 6 (Justin Braun 3, Blair Gavin 1) 30
KC -- Omar Bravo 4 (unassisted) 93+
CHV -- Justin Braun (caution; Tactical Foul) 32
Chivas USA -- Dan Kennedy, Michael Lahoud, Heath Pearce, Michael Umana, Zarek Valentin, Ben Zemanski, Simon Elliott (Francisco Mendoza 68), Nick LaBrocca, Blair Gavin (Jorge Flores 63), Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini (Mariano Trujillo 79).
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Boyens, Chris Cortez, Victor Estupinan, Zach Thornton.
Sporting KC -- Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Milos Stojcev (Kei Kamara 38), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi (Birahim Diop 80), Julio Cesar (Luke Sassano 46), Omar Bravo, C.J. Sapong.
Substitutes Not Used: Teal Bunbury, Scott Lorenz, Shavar Thomas, Eric Kronberg.
Referee: Jasen Anno
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland; Peter Balciunas
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Sunny and 91 degrees