KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- As Sporting Kansas City celebrated the goal that sealed their path to the Western Conference Championship, they surrounded a young Hungarian, whose “breakout” came at just the right time in their season.
Daniel Salloi charged forward to challenge Yohan Croizet’s long ball into the corner in hopes of wasting a bit more time to prevent Real Salt Lake from mounting a final comeback charge up the field in the teams' Western Conference Semifinals second leg on Sunday. He read RSL defender Nedum Onuoha’s header back to Nick Rimando perfectly, and rounded Rimando to “no-look” shoot the ball into the empty net, sealing a 4-2 win to guarantee passage to the next round.
“I haven’t watched my celebration back as many times as this one,” Salloi told MLSsoccer.com. “I think this is going to be one of my favorite goals, not because of the ‘no-look,’ but the relief that we felt at the end, that we won the game with that was amazing. I’m just happy that I could be the one to score it.”
Salloi’s massive smile was in the middle of it all, something that has become commonplace for Sporting fans in recent weeks, and earlier in the season. But for a while, that celebration smile from Salloi was missing.
After scoring in Sporting’s home loss to FC Dallas back in July, Salloi hit a seven-game scoreless run until an Oct. 11 match against Vancouver. Salloi characterized it as a bit of a “dry run.” But Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes disputes that characterization.
“I think where one of the things I try to do with the players,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com, ”especially young players going through the system, I try to take a hard look at the length of the season, and I also take a hard look at how much time they’ve had going through a long season. For him, he really hasn’t.
“So I think there is a time in the middle of the season, where you take them, remove them, and let them watch from the outside for a little bit, which helps them kind of hit the reset button," Vermes continued. "It’s a tough one because players think right away that the world is coming down on them.”
Vermes urged patience with the 22-year-old.
“I told him, ‘This is not a decision based on play. It’s based on giving you a little bit of a break. Believe me, you’ll get your chance again. It’s going to come and you’ll be better for it later.’ I like to think on this one, I was kind of right.”
Now, after scoring six goals in their last five games to push his season tally to 15 goals in all competitions, along with seven assists, Salloi’s confidence is high and Sporting’s attack looks dangerous.
“As a forward you just need that one goal that starts it,” Salloi said. “I was telling Johnny [Russell] I thought he would score a hat trick this weekend because he really had his chances. I told him that I really feel like next game it’s going to come out, because that’s how I felt. Once you get going it gives you confidence, your teammates trust you, and life is good. You score the goals.”