KANSAS CITY, Kan. – This time, Sporting Kansas City got the call – and still had to settle for a single point.
A week after a blown offside call denied them a goal in a 1-1 away draw to D.C. United, Sporting succeeded in getting a penalty kick award overturned on Sunday against Houston.
But with a goal from Brad Davis and two huge saves from Tally Hall – Davis' coming in his last match before joining the US national team camp – the Dynamo earned a 1-1 draw that kept them from being beaten three times in a row by their Eastern Conference rivals.
Still, Sporting (6-4-4) will take encouragement from Kei Kamara's first goal since returning from his loan to Norwich City of the Premier League, and from extending their current unbeaten streak – and their unbeaten run against the Dynamo (6-4-3) – to three matches.
And it could have been worse, especially with three key players sidelined by injury.
When Davis went down under Uri Rosell's challenge in the 38th minute, referee Drew Fischer immediately pointed to the spot. After vehement protests from Sporting's players, though, Fischer conferred with assistant referee Kevin Duliba and waved off the penalty ruling.
But in the first minute of stoppage time, Davis stole back the momentum – and gave Houston the lead.
Giles Barnes flicked the ball on forward to Will Bruin, who took it with his back to the defense and worked free before slotting a quick through ball to Davis for a finish inside Jimmy Nielsen's near post.
Houston called for their own penalty kick when Ike Opara brought down Bruin with a hard tackle in the 70th minute, but Fischer allowed play to continue.
Kamara, who came on as a second-half sub, equalized from distance in the 68th minute on his first successful link-up with DP center forward Claudio Bieler. After Jacob Peterson got a touch on Rosell's through ball, Bieler's square pass found Kamara just outside the area after a dummy from the advancing Peterson.
He slotted it into the lower right corner for the equalizer, and nearly put Sporting up 2-1 with a blistering set-piece header in the 75th minute. Hall leaped to tip the ball over the crossbar – and that wasn't even his best save of the match.
That came in the 37th minute, when Graham Zusi snapped a header toward the lower right corner. Hall dived to his left, got a hand on the ball, and deflected it inches wide of the post.
Sporting had a series of late scratches for the rematch of their 1-0 away victory two weeks ago at BBVA Compass Stadium. Center back Aurelien Collin was out with a right knee sprain, and midfielder Benny Feilhaber and forward C.J. Sapong both sat out with ankle sprains. All three were ruled out after evaluations on Saturday.
Houston also had to deal with injury issues of their own, with Ricardo Clark and Eric Brunner forming a makeshift center back pairing with Bobby Boswell suspended and Jermaine Taylor out injured, while Corey Ashe was forced off through injury at halftime, being replaced by Mike Chabala.
Both teams open US Open Cup action this week and return to league play on Saturday, with Sporting at home against Montreal and the Dynamo away to Columbus.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Tally Hall||Made five saves, two of them of the spectacular variety, to keep Houston in it and help gain his team a point|
|2||Uri Rosell||Kept the Sporting midfield cohesive and did well to dictate the tempo of the game, helping set up Kamara's goal in the process|
|3||Kei Kamara||Made a big impact after coming on as a sub, giving Houston fits and creating mismatches across the field. Hit a great goal for the equalizer|