KANSAS CITY, Kan. – There was no stoppage-time heartbreak this time for Sporting Kansas City. Their unbeaten streak goes on – and their long winless run in MLS action against the Seattle Sounders is over as well.
Benny Feilhaber's 84th minute penalty kick, after Sounders keeper Stefan Frei and Sporting forward Dom Dwyer collided in the penalty area while going for a 50-50 ball, gave Sporting a 1-0 victory on Saturday night and snapped a nine-match run of futility against Seattle.
Sporting, who outlasted the Sounders in penalties to win the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, had beaten them just once in prior league play. That came all the way back in 2009, in the first meeting between the two sides. Between that match and Saturday night, they had lost seven times and drawn twice against Seattle.
Kansas City (6-2-6) ran their unbeaten streak to seven matches and recorded their third straight clean sheet as Tim Melia made a career-high six saves for his fourth shutout since taking over for the now-departed Luis Marin. Feilhaber's goal was his fifth of the season, also a new career high.
Seattle (8-4-2) had their unbeaten streak ended at four matches despite putting all six of their shots on frame.
Both teams had some serious shuffling to do at the forward spots, due to a combination of injury, international duty and family duties, but Seattle had the worst of it.
The Sounders were without Obafemi Martins (surgery to repair a broken nose), Clint Dempsey (son was born Saturday) and Chad Barrett (hamstring), while Sporting's Krisztian Nemeth was with the Hungarian national team and Dwyer started the match on the bench after missing two matches with a variety of knocks.
Any thoughts that the visitors might park the bus for 90 minutes were put to bed early, though. After managing just one shot on goal against Sporting two weeks ago, in a scoreless home draw in Seattle, the Sounders forced four saves from Melia in the first half alone on Saturday – including a one-two sequence in the 36th minute that saw Melia dive to parry Lamar Neagle's low shot, then stretch to punch the rebound over the end line.
Neagle finally got a ball past Melia in the 66th minute, off a cross from Marco Pappa, but was controversially flagged offside on the play.
Sporting created their share of chances as well throughout the match, but also struggled at times to complete the final pass in the attacking third.
Everything changed in the 83rd minute, though, when Dwyer got his head to the ball while being grabbed by Zach Scott. Frei was able to punch the ball but also ran into Dwyer and referee Ismail Elfath pointed to the spot over the keeper's vehement arguments. Feilhaber put the penalty calmly inside the left post.
Seattle are at home to FC Dallas on June 13, while Sporting are off until a home date with Saint Louis FC on June 16 in U.S. Open Cup play. They return to MLS action on June 21 at Real Salt Lake.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.