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Sporting Kansas City breaks out, overcomes penalties in Colorado (video)

Mar 29, 2014, 8:38 PM EDT

Neither Colorado nor Sporting Kansas City had scored an open play goal ahead this season, something the defending champions rectified in the second half of today’s game in Commerce City, Colo. Two well-worked goals saw Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber score for the first time this season, with Dom Dwyer roofing a winner in stoppage time to send a 10-man Colorado to its first defeat of the season, 3-2.

Along the way, the Rapids were blessed with two more penalty kicks, running the team’s total to five on the season. Converting both his tries, Vicente Sanchez is up to a league-leading four goals, withthe Rapids having yet to score from anywhere but the spot.

Yet despite getting two kicks for the second straight week, the Rapids suffered their first loss of the season, with Kansas City’s wide play able to create each of  the team’s second half goals. In the 50th minute, Paulo Nagamura fed Sal Zizzo down Sporting’s right flank, with the former Timber eventually playing through the six-yard box for Zusi. The U.S. international finished into an open net to make it 1-0.

source: Getty ImagesIn the 79th minute, it was Zusi (right, at MLS Cup) that started the final movement down the left, with Zizzo getting his second assist of the day when he headed down for Feilhaber. Though he need two chances to get around a diving Nathan Sturgis, Feilhaber’s goal equalized one minute after the Rapids’ second conversion.

But amid all those fireworks, the match’s key development looked like something that could have proven irrelevant. With five minutes left in regulation time, while pressuring Zusi on a ball coming out of the Sporting end, Marvell Wynne’s right foot came down on the attacker’s ankle, earning him a red card.

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So close to the end of the game, Colorado should have still been able to kill off the draw. Instead, one minute into stoppage time, Zusi fed Dwyer in the left of the penalty area before this blast – what might be the best goal of the young striker’s career:

Sporting beat a very good San Jose team last week, but despite giving up two goals, this was the defending champions’ best performance of the season. There were points of this game, particularly in the first half, were Colorado was very good. Kansas City rode that out, though, got to half time even, and were eventually able to deflate a confident Colorado with Zusi’s goals. The first penalty was a bit of bad lack, the second one was fully Feilhaber’s fault, but the team overcame both. Between the attack’s awakening, the fight back, and three points on the road at altitude, this is a very impressive result.

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Though the first three weeks of the season, we were left wondering what Sporting would look like once they moved on from their Champions League commitments. Though Dwyer, Aurélien Collin, and Chance Myers weren’t in today’s starting lineup, the team played more like last year’s champions than any Sporting squad that’s taken the field in MLS. Aside from the first half at home against Cruz Azul, this was the best Sporting team we’ve seen all season.

So consider the questions answered, even if the queries were more curiosities than serious. If you were wondering when the real Sporting Kansas City would show up, wonder no more.

  1. bobinkc - Mar 29, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    I’m glad Richard swiped at it, but I’m going to point right at it: none of Sporting’s 3 goals were from penalty kicks, all 3 of them were from open-field play. I hope they have convinced themselves now that they can create opportunities and then capitalize on them, rather than relying solely on PKs for goals. That reliance on PKs and low winning scores kept them from taking the Supporters Shield as well as the Trophy last year.

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