They aren’t out of the woods just yet, but Sporting Kansas City took a step in the right direction Wednesday evening – thanks, in large part, to homegrown forward Daniel Salloi.
The Hungarian international scored twice to help secure a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids at Children’s Mercy Park, snapping a seven-game winless stretch for the perennial Audi MLS Cup Playoffs contender.
The importance of the result wasn’t lost on Salloi, a 25-year-old Hungarian international.
“These are the situations that test the team and how you react. This is big,” said the 2021 MLS All-Star, who had 16g/8a a season ago. “I'm not saying we made up for it, but this is how we have to react and move on.”
WATCH: Daniel Salloi's brace snaps Sporting KC's rut in heated win vs. Colorado Rapids
Salloi’s first goal came in the 24th minute, weaving through several Rapids defenders before beating goalkeeper William Yarbrough near post. He doubled his total in the 50th minute when he collected Kortne Ford’s crossfield switch and tucked a right-footed shot to the far post, giving him 43 all-competition goals for SKC – tying now-LA Galaxy president Chris Klein for sixth-most in club history.
There’s a sour feeling accompanying Salloi’s star showing, though, as he was red-carded in the 99th minute for kicking out at Colorado midfielder Nicolas Mezquida. There were four dismissals in second-half stoppage time of the heated affair, and now Salloi will miss their Sunday visit to the San Jose Earthquakes (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
Manager Peter Vermes said a key performance was looming for Salloi.
“He's been playing well all season, he just hasn't had the breaks in the games and I think at times we haven't been able to find him on some of the movements he makes off the ball,” Vermes said. “He's got the ability, as he's shown tonight to do an individual solo and score on the first one. The second one was a little bit more opportunistic, but you have still got to finish it. Great two goals by him. It was important.”
Sporting KC’s third win of the 2022 campaign moved them off the foot of the Western Conference table. It also came on the heels of a 7-2 loss at the Portland Timbers that left captain Johnny Russell offering some stern words for their form.
In many ways, the Scottsman’s message resonated.
“Character is defined in difficult moments and he's a guy that doesn't shy away from adverse situations,” Vermes said of Russell. “It's easy to be a captain when everything's going well. It's the difficult moments where you have got to step up and be a leader and he's done a really good job of that.”
Now, it’s about SKC building off this result and not slipping back down.
“Although it's very important as a team to get over that and move on past it, we were going to let it fuel us and motivate us in this game,” Ford said. “We talked about it all week. It was going to be a quick turnaround and we need to show grit and character, be tough in tackles and show mentality on the field. And that's what we did tonight.”