KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Sporting Kansas City's 50th straight home sellout turned out to be most memorable for being the cure to the Houston Dynamo's run of road futility.
And after not giving up three goals in one match for nearly six months of the league season, Sporting – usually the benchmark for defensive stinginess in MLS – have done it twice in a row.
Houston took an ugly, chippy, weather-delayed 3-1 decision on Friday night at Sporting Park, snapping a seven-match road losing streak with a pair of set-piece goals five minutes apart in the second half. The Dynamo (8-13-4) also ended a seven-match winless streak against the defending MLS Cup champions, dating to the second leg of the 2012 Eastern Conference final, while Sporting (12-8-6) have lost three of their last four.
During the delay of one hour and 17 minutes, beginning in the 17th minute when officials spotted lightning nearby, fans sat through torrential rain before conditions abated and play finally resumed just before 9 p.m. local time.
Sporting, who had not looked entirely cohesive before the interruption, came back from it playing with far more energy and structure in the attack but could not get a decisive last touch. They had good chances in penalty-area scrambles in the 26th, 28th and 30th minutes, but the Dynamo were able to make desperation clearances all three times – and in the 35th minute, against the run of play, they capitalized on a miscue by All-Star center back Aurelien Collin to go up 1-0.
Collin muffed a clearance on Kofi Sarkodie's cross, teeing up Will Bruin for a finish past Jon Kempin from just behind the penalty spot. Bruin came up lame on the play and was replaced by Jason Johnson in the 40th minute.
That's about when things began to get ugly. Sporting forward Dom Dwyer was given a caution for off-the ball action in the penalty area on a corner kick in the 40th minute, and a shoving match began not long after that when Houston's Sarkodie pushed Benny Feilhaber to the pitch near the Dynamo's goal – after, replays showed, the Sporting midfielder gave the first push.
Both were issued yellow cards, meaning Feilhaber and Dwyer both will sit out Sporting's next match – against New England on Wednesday – and Sarkodie will miss Houston's Sept. 6 match against Montreal for caution accumulation.
That did not stop Feilhaber and Dwyer from teaming up to equalize in the 55th minute on Friday, though. C.J. Sapong's through ball out of traffic found Feilhaber just outside the area, and he drove in and centered a pass that Dwyer left-footed past Tally Hall – with the help of a deflection. Dwyer's 17th league goal of the year is one shy of Preki's club record, set in 1996 when Kansas City were the Wiz and MLS was in its first season.
Seven minutes after that, though, Houston were back ahead to stay. Collin fouled Giles Barnes just outside the penalty area, and defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum left David Horst unmarked on the resulting set piece. Horst took advantage, rising to head in Brad Davis' free kick to make it 2-1.
Five minutes after that, it was 3-1 after another set-piece header. This time it was Ricardo Clark who ran onto Davis' free kick and knocked it over Collin and past Kempin.
After landing awkwardly in an aerial challenge with Collin, Hall went down holding his right leg and eventually had to be replaced in the 81st minute by Tyler Deric. Word on Hall's injury, and Bruin's, was not immediately available.
Friday's match also saw Sporting set an MLS record with their 30th different starter in a season, with midfielder Martin Steuble making his first appearance in the lineup.
Sporting continue their East Coast swing after the Revolution match, visiting New York on Saturday, while Houston are off until hosting last-place Montreal on Saturday.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Brad Davis||Took a page out of Houston's old bread and butter in setting up two set piece goals to pull the Dynamo out of the doldrums|
|2||Ricardo Clark||Got the lightest of touches on the insurance goal, and was sharp in the tackle all night to keep SKC off balance|
|3||Dom Dwyer||Did his part for Sporting, as his goal looked to get the team back in the game, but poor defending undid his effort|