There have been plenty of surprising calls go both for and against Sporting Kansas City so far this season but none probably top the events of yesterday's game between Sporting and FC Dallas. The first half especially saw a number of contentious moments, and fortunately for KC they all went in their favor as they defeated Dallas 2-0 for just their second win in 12 league games. The win also allowed KC to jump back into the playoff picture going from seventh to fourth.
The first half had started well as both teams were creating half chances and getting up and down the field, but in the 15th minute came the biggest point of contention of the entire game as Maximiliano Urruti tried to pick out Tesho Akindele with a through ball that Lawrence Olum easily dealt with and played back towards goal and Tim Melia. Unfortunately Melia had come off his line and was no where near where Olum played the ball. Melia raced back as the ball rolled towards the net and slid knocking the ball away from goal. The assistant on that side of the field didn't raise his flag as it seemed everyone in the stadium expected him to and give Dallas the goal. Instead play continued as Kansas City played the ball back up field as replays clearly showed the ball well over the line. Seconds later Dallas was attacking again and had another opportunity as Fabian Castillo was played in behind the KC defense. As Melia came off his line Castillo squared he ball to Michael Barrios who took a shot that was saved by Melia and went right to Castillo. Castillo went around Melia and put the ball in the net but was ruled offside on the play as there was a defender back on the goal line, but Castillo had gotten past Melia leaving only one player instead of two between him and the goal. The refereeing decisions continued to go against Dallas as in the 24th minute it looked like Jimmy Medranda brought down Akindele in the box on a ball from Urruti, but play was again waved on. Replays showed Akindele making the most of the contact but there have been penalties given for it before. Kansas City came back and almost put themselves in front as some good work down the wing allowed Saad Abdul-Salaam to pick out Benny Feilhaber at the top of the box but he slid his shot just wide of the near post. The better of the chances though continued to fall to Dallas though as Matt Hedges hit the cross bar after a free kick and seconds later Castillo came racing down the field and beat Melia with a shot but saw his effort hit off the post and bounce right into the grateful hands of Melia to keep the game scoreless. By this point it could have easily been four or five goals for Dallas and it was only 30 minutes into the game. By the 41st minute though it looked like KC might be able to grab the lead as KC worked well down the left leading to Connor Hallisey getting some space to run. Hallisey played a good early ball to Jacob Peterson about 35 yards from goal with no one on him, Peterson raced in one on one with Chris Seitz but could not beat Seitz in that situation and had his effort well saved by the Dallas goalkeeper. That play seemed to wake Kansas City up and in the 43rd minute KC grabbed the lead off a Feilhaber free kick. Feilhaber played a dangerous ball towards the near post that Olum got a little flick on that helped push it past Seitz and into the net giving KC the 1-0 lead, however undeserving it may have felt. Minutes later KC had the chance to go up 2-0 from the penalty spot as Feilhaber looked to get clipped after receiving the ball in the box. Further replays made me question how much contact Feilhaber actually took on the play. Feilhaber stepped up to take the penalty himself and sent Seitz the wrong way to put Kansas City up 2-0 heading into the half time break.
The second half of the game lacked the excitement of the first half as KC sat back a little deeper absorbing pressure, but keeping Dallas from getting clear chances on goal. Neither side created much in the way of dangerous chances in the second half, Sporting's defense kept Dallas limited to half chances until very late. The best chance in the second half didn't come until the 89th minute when Walker Zimmerman, coming up from his defensive position had a diving header go just wide of the post after a ball came floating in over the top. Kansas City was able to hang out thanks to their defense and the help of the referee to earn all three points and hopefully turn their season around.
Wizards Man of the Match - Benny Feilhaber - A goal and an assist for the Sporting KC midfielder, I was worried when I saw the lineup that Feilhaber would be sitting a lot deeper on the field similar to how he was in the first half against Minnesota. He was able to get forward at good times though and was able to get KC the goals they needed, although it wasn't his greatest performance for KC, hopefully the success can be built upon.
Player Ratings - Melia 5, Abdul-Salaam 6, Opara 7, Olum 6, Medranda 6, Mustivar 5, Espinoza 7, Feilhaber 7, Hallisey 5, Dwyer 4, Peterson 4. Subs Ellis 7, Rubio 5, Myers NR.