One moment, everything was going Sporting Kansas City’s way. In the next, things went south for the Eastern Conference leaders.
Sporting looked to take a load of momentum into the half of Wednesday night’s away match against the Houston Dynamo, after Kei Kamara’s 42nd-minute penalty kick pulled them even at 1-1.
But in first-half stoppage time, midfielder Peterson Joseph – starting because of a right quad strain to All-Star selection Graham Zusi – was issued a straight red card from a two-footed tackle from behind on Houston’s Calen Carr.
Sporting defended valiantly after the break, but the Dynamo ground them down with the numbers advantage and won it on Carr’s second goal in the 80th minute.
HIGHLIGHTS: Houston 2, Sporting KC 1
“We figured out a way to get back in the game, and we do, which is great,” Sporting manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “We should be walking in at halftime 1-1, and with the momentum swinging our way. The next thing you know, we get the red card and that obviously changes the game.”
Vermes had no immediate comment on referee Mark Kadlecik’s decision to go straight for the red card on Joseph’s foul.
“I haven’t seen the play, so I really couldn’t comment,” he said. “I couldn’t say if it is or it isn’t.”
Vermes did have an opinion, though, on Andre Hainault’s foul in the area on Jacob Peterson – the infraction which set up Kamara’s first-half equalizer from the spot.
“I’m shocked that there wasn’t a card on the penalty kick,” Vermes said. “Just blown away. I can’t believe it.”
Peterson was able to start and played 82 minutes, just four days after a left ankle injury that knocked him out of Saturday’s 2-0 win at Columbus in the first half.
“He made a great run into the box to draw the foul,” Vermes said. “That’s what we want from those guys, and he did a great job of getting in there.”
Despite the late loss, which ended Sporting’s unbeaten streak at three matches, Vermes praised his defense for holding out the Dynamo as long as it could.
“We fought well,” he said. “We fought all the way to the end. We just couldn’t secure a point.”
Joseph will be suspended for Saturday’s home match against New England – and with Roger Espinoza on Olympic duty with Honduras, Sporting’s once-crowded midfield roster is suddenly looking a lot thinner.
Vermes was unsure whether Zusi would be able to return in time to face the Revs, either.
“If he was able to play today, he would have played,” Vermes said. “So I have no idea at this point.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.