KANSAS CITY, Kan. – This wasn’t the sort of club history Sporting Kansas City had wanted to make.
Never before – not as the Wiz, not as the Wizards and not under their current brand – had the MLS originals scored a goal, not allowed a shot on goal and come away with anything but a victory.
HIGHLIGHTS: SKC 1, NY 1
That all changed on Sunday night in a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls that saw Kei Kamara put Sporting up with a fourth-minute header but then deflect the ball into his own goal in the 28th minute.
And despite posting a 60-40 edge in possession percentage, Sporting found themselves farther off the pace in the Supporters' Shield race and ruing yet another home outing that was one-sided on the stat sheet – but not on the scoreboard.
“I think we dominated the game,” goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen said. “We just didn’t have that final piece to get the final break.”
But there is good news on several fronts.
For one thing, East-leading Sporting – like the Earthquakes, whom they now trail by three points – have eight games left in which to make a decisive move for their first Shield since 2000.
“We’re not just looking at our conference,” Kamara said. “We’re looking at the other side too, at what [Shield leaders] San Jose are doing. We want to finish the season at the top.”
And as the playoff race nears its end, manager Peter Vermes said visiting teams won’t be able to sit back at Livestrong Sporting Park and play for a single point.
“At some point, teams have to come and get after you,” Vermes said in the postgame news conference. “They can’t just sit back. [New York] bunkered in tonight. They’re happy to be leaving here with a point.”
The other encouraging sign as the season enters its last quarter is Sporting’s success on the road, where they will play half of their eight remaining games. They’re a league-best 7-4-2 outside of Livestrong, with victories in four of their last five away dates.
“We don’t go to places and say that we’ll be happy with getting one point,” Vermes said. “We want to go there and get three. It’s a little bit different mentality, for sure.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com