Sporting Kansas City 4, Vancouver Whitecaps 3 | MLS Match Recap
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The Vancouver Whitecaps were within four minutes of handing Sporting Kansas City their first home loss of the year and tightening their own grip on the Western Conference lead.
But after twice trailing by two goals – the last time with under a quarter of an hour to go – Sporting got three scores after the 80th minute, including an 87th-minute equalizer and the stoppage-time winner from midfielder Paulo Nagamura, to pull out a 4-3 victory on Saturday night at Sporting Park.
Dom Dwyer and Kevin Ellis also scored and Soni Mustivar had two assists for Sporting (11-4-7, 40 points), who improved to 12-0-4 at home and spoiled a two-goal performance by Kekuta Manneh for the Whitecaps (13-9-3, 42 points).
Both teams were coming off domestic cup action at midweek, the 'Caps drawing Montreal 2-2 away in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship and Sporting coming on late to beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 at home in a US Open Cup semifinal.
The quick turnaround showed for Kansas City in the first half, with the hosts struggling in both possession and defense.
Vancouver didn't look the least bit leggy in taking a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute, though, when Manneh made Sporting pay for taking a high line without taking care of the ball.
Manneh dispossessed Mustivar near midfield, eluded a sliding tackle attempt by Ellis, and the 4-on-1 break was on. Manneh elected to keep the ball himself, driving on goal and slotting his fifth goal of the season past Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia.
Sporting nearly equalized in the 17th, when Benny Feilhaber's through ball sprung Nagamura alone on Vancouver 'keeper David Ousted, but Ousted blocked the midfielder's shot from a tight angle. Ousted came up big again in the 21st, making a foot save to deny Krisztian Nemeth from close range.
After those missed opportunities, the home side would find itself down 2-0 in the 41st minute after another giveaway gave Manneh his second goal of the night.
Steven Beitashour stripped the ball from rookie left back Amadou Dia – a 34th-minute sub for Jimmy Medranda, who was making just his second start at the position and struggled to defend on the wing. With Dia caught upfield, Beitashour had plenty of room to drive deep into Sporting territory before sending in a cross that Manneh headed home from just outside the six-yard box.
Sporting pulled one back in the 53rd minute, when the Whitecaps failed to clear Feilhaber's corner kick and Mustivar sent a looping header across the mouth of the goal. Ellis was waiting far post to nod it home for his third goal of the year and the second against Vancouver.
But the visitors tacked on what seemed to be a sure insurance goal in the 77th after Nagamura was whistled for a handball 20 yards from goal. Pedro Morales sent the resulting free kick over the wall, and it bent into the lower left corner of the goal for a 3-1 Whitecaps lead.
That's when things began to fall apart for Vancouver – and finally come together for Sporting.
Four minutes after Morales' goal Nemeth sent in a long diagonal ball from the left wing and Dom Dwyer put a bouncing header inside the left post after getting position on 'Caps center back Pa-Modou Kah. Six minutes after that, Nagamura ran onto Chance Myers' cross and drove a low blast past Ousted from just outside the penalty area. Feilhaber was awarded with the secondary assist, which tied him with Preki (2003) for the club record of 18 assists across all competitions in a season.
He wasn't done atoning for the handball, though. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Mustivar's high pass from the left flank found Nagamura just outside the penalty area. The Brazilian veteran flicked a header past Ousted, then took off down the end line and ripped his shirt off in defiant celebration as his teammates rushed him.
The schedule grind continues for Sporting on Wednesday, when they host San Jose (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), while Vancouver are next in action at home on Aug. 22 against FC Dallas (10 pm ET, TSN1 and MLS LIVE).