Sporting Kansas City tied the Houston Dynamo 2-2 on Saturday to go undefeated during its six-game preseason, presented by Children’s Mercy.
Newcomers Nuno Andre Coelho and Daniel Salloi scored on either side of halftime for Sporting Kansas City, while Houston received goals from Giles Barnes and Erick Torres as the MLS rivals settled for a draw on the final match day of the Desert Diamond Cup at Kino North Stadium in Tucson, Arizona.
Coelho — who started alongside captain Matt Besler in central defense for the third time in the Desert Diamond Cup — made his mark early in the match, first preventing Houston from taking the lead in the eighth minute. A lunging header from Will Bruin was bound for the corner of the net, but the 30-year-old Portuguese was well-positioned to nod the ball off the goal line.
Just eight minutes later, Coelho turned from goal saver to goal scorer. Connor Hallisey delivered an in-swinging corner kick to the near post, allowing Coelho to glance a header past Houston goalkeeper Calle Brown. Hallisey recorded his team-leading second assist of the preseason to go with his pair of goals scored on Jan. 30 against FC Tucson.
Houston responded just after the half-hour mark. Former Sporting KC right back Jalil Anibaba delivered a looping cross to the far post where Jamaican international Giles Barnes snapped a low header past Tim Melia. The Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper would atone just before halftime, parrying another effort from Barnes wide of goal.
Sporting Kansas City started the second half brightly, thanks in part to the contribution of Salloi. Five minutes after the restart, the 19-year-old Homegrown Player lofted a cross to Dom Dwyer, who nodded narrowly wide of Brown’s lefthand post.
Another chance would beckon in the 55th minute when Brown illegally handled a back pass from Houston defender Raul Rodriguez, giving Sporting Kansas City an indirect free kick on the edge of the six-yard box. Dwyer coolly slid the ball across the goalmouth to the unmarked left post, where Salloi hammered home with one touch to give his side a 2-1 advantage.
Salloi was one of two Sporting Kansas City Academy products to appear in Saturday’s match. With 60 minutes on the clock, U-18 player Will Little made his senior team debut after tallying a goal and an assist for the Swope Park Rangers in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Feb. 17.
Searching for an equalizer, the Dynamo forced Melia into action in the 73rd minute when substitutes Mauro Manotas and Leonel Miranda combined on the edge of the penalty area. Miranda’s blast was smothered as Melia dropped to his left for the reflex save.
Houston Designated Player Erick Torres had entered the match just a minute earlier and dispatched the game-tying strike in the 77th minute, his third goal of the 2016 Desert Diamond Cup. The Mexican forward received a pass on the right side of the box, swiveled and found the bottom corner to level proceedings.
Sporting Kansas City will kick off its 21st season in Major League Soccer next Sunday, traveling to face Seattle Sounders FC at 6 p.m. CT in a nationally televised contest on FS1 and FOX Deportes. The club will then host Vancouver Whitecaps FC on March 12 in the first match at newly named Children’s Mercy Park, home to a 70-game MLS sellout streak since 2012.
2016 MLS Preseason
Desert Diamond Cup
Kino Sports Complex - North Stadium | Tucson, Arizona
Weather: 83 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City||1||1||2|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Chance Myers (Saad Abdul-Salaam 60), Nuno Andre Coelho (Kevin Ellis 60), Matt Besler, Amadou Dia; Jordi Quintilla (Lawrence Olum 78), Paulo Nagamura (Soni Mustivar 46), Roger Espinoza (Jacob Peterson 81); Daniel Salloi, Dom Dwyer (Will Little* 60), Connor Hallisey.
*Sporting KC Academy Player
Houston Dynamo: Calle Brown; Jalil Anibaba (Bradley Bourgeois 86), Raul Rodriguez (Sebastien Ibeagha 86), Agus (David Horst 46), DaMarcus Beasley (Abdouli Mansally 72); Andrew Wenger (Leonel Miranda 66), Ricardo Clark (David Rocha 46), Alex (Zach Steinberger 57), Giles Barnes (Erick Torres 72), Cristian Maidana (Boniek Garcia 57); Will Bruin (Mauro Manotas 66).
SKC — Nuno Andre Coelho (Connor Hallisey) 16
HOU — Giles Barnes (Jalil Anibaba) 31
SKC — Daniel Salloi (Dom Dwyer) 55
HOU — Erick Torres 77