KANSAS CITY, Kan. -Taking three points from cellar-dwelling Toronto FC was looking like a tough go for Sporting Kansas City, until a new arrival came through at the death for the Eastern Conference leaders.
Paulo Nagamura and Oriol Rossell both found the net after the half, with Rosell's 87th-minute score – in just his second outing since joining the club in early August – giving Sporting the 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
The win moved Sporting into a share of the Supporters’ Shield lead with San Jose, with both clubs on 50 points. The Earthquakes meet Chivas USA on Sunday.
Sporting (15-7-5) are unbeaten in their last five matches, with four wins over that span. The Reds (5-16-6) are winless in their last seven and saw their winless streak against Sporting reach seven matches as well.
Toronto didn't even get its first shot off until the 40th minute, but Sporting's dominance during the run of play didn't matter when Ryan Johnson put the Reds up 1-0 a minute from halftime.
Robert Eckersley sent a ball over the top to Johnson, who had slipped behind Sporting's back line. He collected the ball at the edge of the penalty area, took one touch to settle and calmly slotted his left-footed shot past Jimmy Nielsen and into the lower right corner of the goal.
Johnson nearly doubled Toronto's lead at the end of a quick counterattack on 49 minutes, beating Nielsen with a shot from 20 yards only to watch his blast hit the post.
Nagamura equalized on the hour mark after with a heads-up play, and a fortunate carom, at the edge of the penalty area. His right-footed volley of Jeremy Hall's headed clearance took a short bounce off the pitch and looped over goalkeeper Freddy Hall's head for Nagamura's first MLS goal of the year.
With the game hanging in the balance, Nielsen came up big in the 79th minute, deflecting Luis Silva's blast from near the penalty spot away for a corner. That set the stage for Rosell, a 78th-minute sub at defensive midfielder in place of Julio César, to deliver his gamewinner three minutes from time off assists from Nagamura and Chance Myers.
Myers' final pass found Rosell at the top right corner of the penalty area, and his first-time shot eluded Freddy Hall and rolled inside the far post.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Paulo Nagamura||Netted his first league goal of the season and assisted on Oriol Rosell's winner, while roaming box to box with his usual tenacity.|
|2||Ryan Johnson||Worked hard up top all evening and gave the Reds their first-half lead. Nearly made it 2-0 after the break, only to be denied by the woodwork.|
|3||Kei Kamara||Did all he could to score on his 28th birthday, wearing down Toronto's beleaguered back line with his movement and energy.|