After more than a month of frustration, it looked as though Sporting Kansas City were finally going to hold a lead and pick up a win.
The fact that they couldn't left manager Peter Vermes disappointed with the final result, but still proud of their effort in playing more than 20 minutes a man down after the first red card of C.J. Sapong's career.
"They're the team with the most points in the league at this point, unbeaten at home, and we're leading 2-0 until we went a man down," Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Saturday night after his club conceded twice in the dying minutes to settle for a 2-2 away draw with Western Conference leaders FC Dallas. "We did a good job to get out of here with a point. I'm not saying that's where we wanted to be.
"We're disappointed to get the point and not to get three, but the guys worked very hard. I'm proud of them."
OPTA Chalkboard: Sporting KC struggle with man disadvantage
Sporting were up 2-0 when Sapong was sent off in the 68th minute for deflecting an already rolling ball into Andrew Jacobson's head as the two sides prepared for a restart. They were still up 2-0 going into the closing minutes, only to see Dallas equalize on headers from Jacobson in the 88th minute and sub Walker Zimmerman in the 90th.
Vermes said he had not yet seen the replay of the events that led to Sapong's ejection and had not decided whether to appeal the forward's red card and mandatory one-match suspension as a result. The extra body might have helped Sporting mark on at least one of those set pieces, but Vermes didn't blame the ejection for either goal.
"Everything happened so fast," said Vermes. "It was the end of the game and they were throwing numbers in there. We had numbers, but I can't really comment on what happened until I've seen the replay."
It was the third time in Sporting's four-match winless streak in league play that they failed to protect a lead and they haven't been able to hold on for three points since snapping the Houston Dynamo's 36-match home unbeaten streak across all competitions with a 1-0 victory on May 12.
Of the six goals they've conceded since then, five have come after the opening 45 mintues.
Still, Vermes said he couldn't fault his club's effort on Saturday despite Dallas' late flurry.
"I thought when we were 11-v-11, we were very good," he said. "We were 2-0 up, and it was very hard for them to try to break us down. But when we went down a man, they threw everything at us and the guys were getting a little tired at that point."
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.