COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Nearly 1,000 Sporting Kansas City fans chose the right game to travel more than 500 miles to watch their team.
Dom Dwyer’s injury time strike handed Sporting a last-gasp 3-2 win at Colorado on Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in a wild contest that featured more penalty kicks for the Rapids, a sending off and five second half goals.
Dwyer, who had just subbed on nine minutes prior and two minutes before Marvell Wynne was sent off with a second yellow card, blasted home a 92nd-minute effort from a tight angle to give Sporting KC (2-1-1) their first road victory of the year.
The Rapids (1-1-1) got two goals from the penalty spot – all five of their goals this season have come via penalty – from Vicente Sanchez, but the Uruguayan’s mastery from the spot wasn’t enough to overcome late defensive miscues that handed Colorado their first loss under new head coach Pablo Mastroeni.
After a dull start from both sides, the visitors, backed by their boisterous traveling supporters, nearly took the early lead. Paulo Nagamura was left open in the penalty box in the 13th minute, but rookie goalkeeper John Berner came out just in the nick of time to close to angle and parry the Brazilian’s shot wide.
In the 19th minute, Rapids captain Drew Moor was left wide open on Sanchez’s free kick, but the center back’s close-range header missed the target and the Dallas native was left shaking his head.
But the Rapids were truly left shaking their collective heads after a moment of brilliance from the cunning Sanchez just three minutes later. The Uruguayan, dancing down the left sideline, tip-toed his way past Sporting netminder Eric Kronberg, and his centering pass right in front of the goal to Nick LaBrocca was perfect, only for a wide-open LaBrocca to inexplicably mis-hit the ball.
The Rapids continued to turn up the throttle during a busy first half, with Dillon Powers’ free kick narrowly steered away by Kronberg in the 31st minute. The Sporting goalkeeper was called on again just a minute later to deny Edson Buddle’s blast from just outside the box.
Sporting were fortunate to enter the half level after the home side dominated the opening 45, and they quickly took advantage on the other side of the break.
A long pass down the right side beat Rapids left back Marc Burch, with Sal Zizzo beating the veteran to the ball and hitting a cross-goal pass to Zusi that left the US international with a simple finish and a 1-0 Sporting lead in the 50th minute.
But seven minutes later, the Rapids got to the penalty spot again after Ike Opara grabbed the ball in the box, and once again, Sanchez converted from the spot. The Uruguayan collected his third goal of the season on Colorado’s fourth penalty kick on the young season.
The Rapids continued pushing forward in search of the winner, and they were rewarded in the 78th minute when a tackle from Benny Feilhaber on right back Shane O’Neill earned yet another penalty kick. Sanchez once again finished from the spot, giving the Rapids their first lead of the afternoon.
But just 45 seconds later, Feilhaber made amends by volleying in a loose ball in the penalty box and evening the back-and-forth affair at two goals apiece.
Things got better for Sporting in the 85th minute. Wynne was ejected with his second yellow for a foul on Zusi, pushing the Rapids down to 10 men and setting the stage for Dwyer’s short-range blast to give Kansas City a wild win in suburban Denver.
Sporting Kansas City return home for a rematch of last season’s MLS Cup when they host Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park on April 5, while the Rapids venture north of the border to battle the Vancouver Whitecaps that same day.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Dom Dwyer||Came off the bench and quickly provided a spark, nearly scoring on one chance before impressively firing home on another for the stoppage-time winner. His chances of starting have raised considerably.|
|2||Vicente Sanchez||Took both of his latest penalty kicks with aplomb and also proved to be quite a handful for Sporting KC's defense from the run of play.|
|3||Eric Kronberg||Might have been lucky to stay on the field after a first half foul on Sanchez, but the 30-year-old goalkeeper made the most of the opportunity by coming up with several key blocks.|