It was a tale of two halves for Sporting KC on Sunday.
The first half was defined by sloppy play on both sides. The challenges were awkward and the the game's flow was choppy. As players got more reckless, the referee tried to put an end to it by calling it close. So it came as no surprise that Chance Myers was called for a foul on an aerial challenge against Blas Perez on the edge of the box, despite Perez seeming eager to go to ground. More surprising was the relative lack of height the wall got on the free kick which curved right over their heads for an early FC Dallas lead. Credit must be given to Ricardo Villar for the strike, but the wall should have gotten off the ground for his shot.
The deficit seemed to be the necessary impetus for Sporting to wake up and revert back to their previous form. While the challenges were still sloppy, resulting in two yellows in the half, Sporting managed their own chaotic behavior and controlled play more than before the Villar goal. Four minutes into first-half stoppage time, a foul in the center of the field gave Sporting the chance they needed and Zusi delivered another beautiful service into the six yard box. Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman came out too slow and Aurelien Collin headed the ball with his back to goal to level the score.
The second half was controlled by Sporting KC. Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers started to push up and force turnovers to start the Sporting offense. The team always plays better with the overlapping runs from their fullbacks, and this was no exception. Myers was the best example of the games dichotomy. He was particularly poor in the first half, but in the second his forward attacks presented the most danger to FC Dallas's defense.
Sporting KC seemed poised to take the lead when Myers was taken down in the box and they were awarded a penalty. However, Kei Kamara's shot was tentative and Hartman guessed which side perfectly to parry the shot out of play. For what seems to be a constant narrative for Sporting Kansas City, it seemed the opposing goalkeeper saved their best performance for us. Nevertheless, Myers and Kamara would get the last laugh, as Myers fed Kamara on a counterattack in the 88th minute to clinch the victory for Sporting. Hartman aided the goal by coming out and opening the near post for Kamara. Zusi should also be credited for the pass onto Myers run.
FC Dallas for the most part did not challenge the Sporting goal in the half, only threatening on a counter-attack that ended with a cross that Matt Besler missed, but fortunately rolled past Andrew Jacobson as well. Hernan Pertuz had a shot from long range pass safely over the bar and that was the last action of the night for a mostly inactive Jimmy Nielsen.
The match represents the first of six consecutive matches against the stronger Western Conference. With this win, Sporting KC moves into sole control of first place in the East, and continues the momentum into their next match in Los Angeles against Chivas USA.
Man of the Match: Seth Sinovic
So many great second half performances, but it's played 90 minutes not 45. Sinovic was solid in the first half, but in the second was excellent. He pushed farther up the field and on numerous occasions dispossessed the FC Dallas midfielders and began the Sporting KC attack. (My exact words were "What is he doing up there?" followed by a "Fantastic", of course with some choice words omitted.) Myers was his equal for the task in the second, but not so much in the first.
Honorable mention to Aurelien Collin for both his goal and service out of the back. When the rest of the game was so chaotic, he was calm in the back in another solid defensive effort by Sporting KC.