Sporting Kansas City were within seconds of a might-have-been story, a hard-luck tale of dropped points and a man (in their eyes) done wrong. Instead, they're celebrating the first four-match road winning streak in the club's 19-year history – and being back atop the Eastern Conference.
And while manager Peter Vermes vowed to appeal what he called a “ridiculous” red card issued to center back Aurelien Collin, one that changed the tenor of Wednesday night's match in Columbus, he had nothing but praise for the way his team responded late after the Crew also went down a man on Wil Trapp's second yellow in the 89th minute.
“At the end of the day, our guys fight back, we do a great job, we hang in there,” Vermes said in an onfield television interview, after Benny Feilhaber's booming goal deep in stoppage time gave Sporting a 2-1 victory over the Crew and moved them one point ahead of D.C. United in the East standings. “We've got a great determination to continue to keep going. We go to other people's places, and we go to play. And this is what happens. You get points on the road.”
This was the second straight match – after Saturday's 2-1 away victory over Montreal – where Sporting scored first, conceded an equalizer and then found a late winner. It also marked the second time over the four-match away victory streak for Kansas City to come away with all three points despite finishing with 10 men.
“That just shows incredible perseverance and a fantastic determination to go and play and win, no matter where we play,” Vermes said in a postmatch conference call with reporters. “To me, that sums it all up.”
Collin was ejected in the 55th minute, after he collided with Crew sub Adam Bedell as both went for a ball in the air. Bedell was bloodied on the play, and referee Edvin Jurisevic issued the red after conferring with his far-side assistant.
If the card stands, Collin will be suspended for Saturday's home match against the LA Galaxy.
“I'm sure we're going to appeal,” Vermes said. “It definitely is something we look at and say it's ridiculous. The thing you have to remember about this game: It's also a man's sport. And men, they're going to go up and contest balls in the air. And they're going to go body-to-body. That's the way it goes sometimes. It's just frustrating. It really changed the game.”
And then, in the dying seconds, Feilhaber changed it back with a booming shot off the bottom of the crossbar after a feed from second-half sub Jacob Peterson.
“The great thing about the play is that we realized that everybody was going toward the goal,” Vermes said. “And Jake does a great job of cutting the ball back, and what a great finish from Benny. A world-class finish, that's for sure.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.