After wrecking the USL PRO single-season scoring record while on loan to Orlando City, Dom Dwyer is finding his touch with Sporting Kansas City.
Dwyer, who notched his first MLS goal in Saturday's 3-2 home loss to the New York Red Bulls, drove home a clutch insurance goal on Wednesday night as Sporting broke a decade-long international victory drought and opened CONCACAF Champions League play with a 2-0 away decision over Nicaraguan side Real Esteli.
Ike Opara also scored for Sporting, who won Peter Vermes' competitive international managerial debut and dropped their hosts to 0-12-5 in CCL play. It was Kansas City's first win in regional competition since a 2-0 victory over Mexican side Santos Laguna in the quarterfinals of the 2002 CONCACAF Champions Cup.
But while Sporting controlled possession and were rarely seriously threatened in their own end, that didn't translate into a commanding lead on the scoreboard for much of the match.
Opara put Sporting up 1-0 in the 31st minute, after Wilber Sanchez's foul on Uri Rosell gave Kansas City a restart 30 yards from goal.
Benny Feilhaber's lofted free kick found Opara at the top left corner of the 6-yard box, and he outjumped center back Douglas De Souza to deliver a floating header over 'keeper Justo Lorente and inside the far post for his third goal of the year in all competitions.
Opara almost returned the favor in the 44th, sending a long pass into the box for Feilhaber, but the midfielder was called offside on the play. And in the first minute after the half, Aurelien Collin's free-kick header into the net was waved off for offside when he broke early for the goal.
Kansas City knocked hard again with a flurry of shots not long after the hour mark, only to see all of them go either inches wide or just high.
Dwyer finally gave Sporting some breathing room in the 76th minute, though. He collected Collin's long ball over the top, drove into the area, and fired a left-footed shot across his body and inside Lorente's right post to make it 2-0.
Eric Kronberg had a relatively quiet night in goal for Sporting, needing to make only two saves to secure his first international shutout.
Kansas City now return home to take on New England in league play on Saturday, returning to CCL action on Aug. 27 at Honduran power CD Olimpia.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.