KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Lawrence Olum's performance was a microcosm of Sporting Kansas City's in their win on Sunday evening.
The central defender/defensive midfielder struggled early on, caught a huge break on a controversial play, and then made the most of it with the winner in Sporting's 2-0 victory over FC Dallas on a sweltering Sunday at Children's Mercy Park.
“That shows how much character we have as a team,” Olum told reporters after Sporting snapped a three-match winless streak and halted Dallas' unbeaten run at five games. “We get a few breaks here and there, and then we bury our chances.”
It wasn't pretty for the home side early on, though.
In the 15th minute, Olum made an awkward back pass attempt with goalkeeper Tim Melia out of position. Melia raced back, slid and kicked the ball away, but replays showed it was well over the line before he did.
Referee Jorge Gonzalez allowed play to continue, though, and the match was still scoreless when Benny Feilhaber lined up for a free kick in the 43rd minute. His ball found Olum at the back post, and Olum delivered with his second goal of the year (both of them have come against Dallas).
Shortly thereafter, Feilhaber drew a penalty call against Atiba Harris just inside the Dallas area and scored the resulting spot kick with a hitching run-up that got FC Dallas netminder Chris Seitz to dive the wrong way. It was Feilhaber's second goal from the spot in as many matches across all competitions.
Feilhaber also has two assists in Sporting's last two outings, this after starting the year well behind 2015's career-best marks in both goals and assists.
“I don't know if I'm hitting a groove but I'm definitely trying to grind through it,” he said “Obviously it hasn't been a good patch for our team or myself the last month or two. So that's the mentality of all the players right now – just fight through it and we'll come out all right on the other end.”
Sporting KC did just that on Sunday, even when they made mistakes, and earned three points because of it.
“At the beginning, they got those opportunities not because they created them,” midfielder Roger Espinoza told MLSsoccer.com. “We gave every single opportunity to them that they got. That has been a problem that we've had in the past. We were able to get that fixed right away. Stuff happens in the games. You've just got to keep going."