KANSAS CITY, Kan. – This one belonged to the defenders, and to the men whose restarts set them up. And for the second time in as many MLS games this year, Sporting Kansas City couldn't keep from giving up a late goal.
Sporting were just minutes from their first victory of the season on Saturday night, after center back Aurelien Collin headed Benny Feilhaber's corner kick past FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz in the 81st minute. But in the 90th, off Michel's free kick six yards outside Sporting's penalty area, Matt Hedges snapped a header of his own past 'keeper Eric Kronberg to force a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park that kept FC Dallas unbeaten at 1-0-1 and the defending MLS Cup champs winless at 0-1-1.
It was reminiscent of Sporting's season-opening 1-0 loss at Seattle, when Chad Barrett scored in the waning moments of stoppage time.
Hedges wasn't done playing the hero after his equalizer, though. Alex Martinez – a third-round 2014 MLS SuperDraft pick making his debut for Sporting as a second-half substitute – sent a blast toward goal in stoppage time, but Hedges cleared it away to preserve the road point.
Sporting, going with their third XI in as many games and with Graham Zusi out of the lineup for the first time, pressed hard from the outset as 20-year-old Colombian midfielder Jimmy Medranda showed plenty of pace in his first career MLS start. But despite Kansas City's 10-3 shot advantage in the first 45 – and thanks to Dallas defender Stephen Keel's goalmouth clearance – the two sides went in scoreless at the half.
Benny Feilhaber set up Sporting's first good chance in the fourth minute, with a chipped cross over Seitz, but C.J. Sapong – who came out for Jacob Peterson at halftime after a hard aerial collision with Keel in the 22nd – couldn't quite get to it.
Sal Zizzo's spin-around shot forced a nice reaction save from Seitz in the 12th minute.
Dallas nearly stole one in first-half stoppage time, against the run of play, but Blas Perez's blast from inside the penalty arc sailed just high and left. They pressed their case harder after halftime, generating several chances on counters as Sporting pressed for their first league goal of the season, but they were unable to convert until the dying minutes.
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Instead, it was Collin who delivered first for the home side after Seitz saved Jacob Peterson's blast out for a corner for Sporting's first goal of the year, after 170 scoreless minutes.
Sporting return to CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal action on Wednesday, taking a 1-0 aggregate into Mexico City for the return leg against Cruz Azul, and host San Jose – another CCL quarterfinalist – in league play next Saturday. Dallas are at home to Chivas USA on Saturday.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.