KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A wild second-half comeback saw Omar Bravo score a late penalty to give Sporting KC a 2-2 draw against the LA Galaxy at a sold out Livestrong Sporting Park on Monday evening.
Sean Franklin scored once on either side of the half for LA – giving him four goals in his last six games – while defender Júlio César and Bravo added to their respective accounts for KC.
Kansas City held most of the possession throughout an up-and-down first half, but they couldn’t find a way to break down a resolute LA side that wasn’t particularly threatening aside from Franklin's goal.
The Galaxy took the lead following a strange sequence that saw the ball eventually fall at the feet of Franklin. Following a Galaxy throw-in, the ball ended up back with Todd Dunivant, who curled a cross into the penalty area.
Kansas City defended it poorly with the clearance heading directly to Omar Gonzalez. Under minimal pressure, the big central defender sent a header behind the Sporting defense that found Franklin, leaving him to guide the ball past goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen with one touch for his third goal of the season.
Til then, the best chances had fallen KC’s way. Matt Besler was the source of the game’s first opportunities as he threatened Josh Saunders and the visiting back line with a handful of dangerous long throw-ins. Graham Zusi followed that up with a right-footed drive from just outside the penalty area in the 15th minute that had Saunders scrambling, but the chance flew well over the crossbar.
With 20,512 fans urging them forward, Kansas City searched for an equalizer before halftime, but another Zusi shot was off target and C.J. Sapong couldn’t create anything out of his driving runs into Galaxy territory.
Almost immediately upon the second half kick-off, the Galaxy made their intentions known, throwing numbers forward and just missing a second goal as Mike Magee and Adam Cristman wasted chances to challenge Nielsen. On the other end of the pitch, Bravo managed to wriggle his way into a shooting chance, but his effort was weak and directly at Saunders.
Both Bruce Arena and Peter Vermes went to their respective benches 15 minutes into the half as Landon Donovan came on for Chad Barrett and Davy Arnaud replaced Roger Espinoza, who had been playing with a yellow card since the second minute.
Donovan started the match on the substitute’s bench after rejoining the team following the United States’ friendly against Costa Rica. The Galaxy were also without Robbie Keane (Ireland) while Sporting was missing leading scorer Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone) and Teal Bunbury (suspension).
Both teams finally started exhibiting their attacking prowess after the changes with two goals arriving nearly back-to-back in the 72nd and 74th minutes.
Kansas City started it off by tying the game at 1-1 through Júlio César. Zusi’s corner kick was long, but Sapong managed to reach a foot out and knock the ball off Arnaud’s back. Before it could hit the ground, Júlio César put his right foot through it and beat Saunders at his near post.
Unfortunately for the home team, LA wasted no time answering as Franklin got his second of the match soon thereafter.
Sporting failed to clear to ball from the top of the penalty box, and when the ball fell to David Beckham the Englishman calmly split the Kansas City defense, slotting Franklin through on goal. Franklin made no mistake, rolling the ball under an onrushing Nielsen for the 2-1 advantage.
Once again, Kansas City threw numbers forward in search of an equalizer, but Arnaud couldn’t convert an opportunity at the back post and Aurélien Collin had a headed goal justly called back for offside.
But, as has become common at LSP, a late equalizer was in the offing for the home side. With only stoppage time to play, Frankie Hejduk handled the ball in the area, forcing Ricardo Salazar to point to the spot. Bravo calmly sent Saunders the wrong way, and sent both sides away with a point.
LA remain top of the table with 52 points (14-3-10). They’re next in action on Friday against defending MLS Cup champs Colorado Rapids.
Sporting, meanwhile, stay in the Eastern Conference hunt with 37 points from 27 games (9-8-10). They face Houston on Saturday in a contest rife with playoff implications.
LA – Sean Franklin 3 (Omar Gonzalez 1) 25
SKC – Julio Cesar 2 (unassisted) 72
LA – Sean Franklin 4 (David Beckham 12) 74
SKC – Omar Bravo 8 (unassisted) 72
SKC – Roger Espinoza (caution; Reckless Tackle) 2
LA – Frankie Hejduk (caution; Reckless Tackle) 66
SKC – Graham Zusi (caution; Reckless Foul) 66
SKC – Aurelien Collin (caution; Reckless Foul) 73
LA – Landon Donovan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 84
LA – David Beckham (caution; Unsportsman ) 90+
Los Angeles Galaxy – Josh Saunders, A.J. DeLaGarza, Frankie Hejduk, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin, Juninho, David Beckham, Mike Magee (Michael Stephens 77), Adam Cristman, Chad Barrett (Landon Donovan 60)
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Perk, Paolo Cardozo, Bryce Jordan, Jovan Kirovski, Miguel Lopez
Sporting Kansas City – Jimmy Nielsen, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Julio Cesar, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Roger Espinoza (Davy Arnaud 64), Graham Zusi, Jeferson (Soony Saad 80), C.J. Sapong, Omar Bravo
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg, Milos Stojcev, Soony Saad, Michael Harrington, Korede Aiyegbusi, Kevin Ellis
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Brian Poeschel, Peter Manikowski
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Weather: Sunny and 72 degrees