KANSAS CITY, Kan.–A match that began miserably ended in delirious joy for Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, two goals in the final five minutes capping a stunning comeback from 2-0 down to 3-2 winners over the Houston Dynamo.
Daniel Salloi’s 59th-minute goal ignited the comeback, and the Homegrown striker later assisted on two late strikes from substitutes Diego Rubio – who scored just 23 seconds after entering the pitch – and Khiry Shelton.
“I just came into the game and tried to do my best,” said Rubio. “I think we had the right players there up top. It was Johnny [Russell] and Daniel. It was good communication for sure. I was running for my life. After the goal, I told the guys I just wanted the third goal.”
An offseason arrival from NYCFC, Shelton went scoreless in his first 10 games with Sporting and came under ample scrutiny from fans and media as a result. His 88th-minute game-winner sent The Cauldron supporters’ section into a frenzy, and the rest of Children’s Mercy Park soon followed suit.
“It was lit up,” said Shelton. “I looked over there [at The Cauldron] and everyone was going crazy. It’s a blessing.
“It’s a ton of emotions… emotions I can’t describe,” he added. “The guys worked so hard, and for me to get an opportunity, and get on the end of that last ball is one of the best feelings. It just shows that we don’t quit. We never give up. We can come back from going down 2-0.”
SKC manager Peter Vermes told reporters postgame that he sensed a turnaround in the works after an animated halftime talk with his team.
“When I was done talking to the team in the locker room at halftime. I knew it,” said Vermes.
“My belief was that once we got the first one, there was no doubt we would get the second one, and then there was a chance we would get the third one.”
Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera was left lamenting his team’s second-half collapse.
“They were dead and we gave them life,” Cabrera said postgame. “We gave them opportunities. And when we tried to close the game, we sent defenders and midfielders to close the game after the good job that the forwards did, scoring two goals.
It’s all on us. It’s not like we haven’t practiced. We have practiced. We have practiced and we’re trying to close the games, but the way we played in the last 10 minutes is not the way you play when you have to close games. And that’s disgraceful, and it’s on us.”