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Sporting Kansas City comeback derailed v Houston Dynamo

There is no sub for watching your backpost.



Thad Bell Photography

After four home matches without a victory and five in MLS play overall, Sporting Kansas City (2-4-5 at night’s start) needed a win. Enter rival Houston Dynamo (4-4-2) for a Saturday night match at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS. And after a Daniel Sallio second half equalizer, hope was bright.

Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes, handcuffed by injuries to center back Dany Rosero and midfielder Remi Walter (and midfielder Erik Thommy out due to personal reasons), put out the following lineup for Matchday 12 for SKC:

Striker Alan Pulido – on the mark in two of the last three league matches and Wednesday in Sporting’s 2-1 OT win in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – took up as a pseudo #10/2nd striker.

Early on, Sporting struggled to build into Houston’s final-third due to poor touches, while Houston slalomed through the host’s midfield with relative ease.

However, with Agada and Pulido hanging close up top, Sporting began to carve through the Houston defense from the left wing. Two combinations with Agada and Pulido by the 12th minute gave a rise to the healthy weekend crowd.

Kansas City gave Houston various looks up top searching for an inlet. Wingers Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell and Agada would sometimes be the three-man front. At other times, as Pulido made a penetrating run, Agada pulled up between lines to create space for the Mexican forward.

Yet, it was Memo Rodriguez who nearly broke through. Intercepting a touch by Houston’s Artur, the midfielder raced into the Dynamo area in the 16th minute, squeaking his pacy roller wide left.

Kansas City would soon forge two more chances as they played with a strong desire and a quick pace. In the 20th minute, Agada had his one mark beat off a cut, yet took another and the chance dissolved. Then, Russell drove deep into the Dynamo box off an errant pass, yet his flighted cross found no one.

Left back Tim Leibold starred as defensive hero in the 30th minute after an entry ball made its fanciful way to the surprised feet of a Houston attacker. Leibold swooped in from behind to sweep away the danger. But a Houston corner would come.

Dynamo talisman Hector Herrera received from a short corner, drove to the upper left of Sporting’s box and let fly a curling shot that bulged the upper netting to Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia’s left. Despite Sporting Kansas City having most of the attacking momentum, Houston had capitalized.

Six minutes later, Salloi struck a menacing, knuckling drive at Houston goalkeeper Steve Clark from 24 yards. Clark fisted it aside, surrendering a corner. The cross of the corner dropped just beyond Agada, and Sporting’s surge was ended.

Long balls were an effective tool for Sporting throughout the half. However, it was the play of Rodriguez that drew roars, the Texas native had come to play. Intercepting another pass, the attacker broke through the middle of the pitch and drilled a shot. Though the shot snuck up on Clark, the save was made.

At the break, Sporting had outshot the visitors 8-6 although they had been out possessed by eleven percent.

For the first ten minutes of the second half, Sporting was in bend-but-don’t-break mode, fending off Houston foray after foray. Then, Russell found Agada for yet another run behind the Houston backline. This time, Agada shouldered off his coming defender before firing wide of Houston’s left post.

It would be Rodriguez who would provide at least part of a solution. After a Rodriguez push forward at the top right of Houston’s box in the 61st minute, Salloi picked up a free ball, turned, and struck inside Clark’s right post to level the match. The winger’s first goal of the season could prove vital in stemming Kansas City’s poor run of form.

Six minutes later, Rodriguez would prove vital. As a corner from Herrera was nodded down, Rodriguez teamed with Melia to keep Houston from jumping ahead. It was Memo’s foot that last touched the attempt at the goal line.

Herrera would soon leave the match for former Sporting player Latif Blessing in the 70th minute, followed by a Sporting sub four minutes later of Marinos Tzionis for Pulido.

But there is no sub for watching your backpost. Houston’s Ibrahim Aliyu snuck behind Russell and right back Jake Davis during a Houston break in the 78th minute. Aliyu gathered a diagonal ball and slid it past Melia and inside his left post to regain the lead.

Shortly thereafter, Alenis Varga entered the match for Russell.

Sporting endeavored, an 89th minute header from Agada lifting the crowd to their feet, only to be saved brilliantly by Clark, and then ruled offside.

Zorhan Basson and Stephen Afrifa entered for Russell and Agada before five minutes of extra time were signaled.

A series of corners that Sporting Kansas City attacked ferociously bore no fruit and the match ended in Houston’s hands.

Sporting will skip out on the midweek matches and pick up away at Austin FC next Saturday.

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