For the fourth time this season -- and third time in the team's past five road games -- Sporting Kansas City was reduced to 10 players on Friday when Antonio Dovale was sent off by referee Juan Guzman in the 21st minute, the earliest red card ever received by a KC player. But what happened next was something never before seen in the club's 19-year MLS history.
Sporting Kansas City emerged victorious with a 2-0 win at Houston that marked the first time Sporting KC scored a game-winning goal while playing down a man on the road. In fact, Friday saw Sporting Kansas City strike twice playing 10-v-11 with Soony Saad and Dom Dwyer each putting their names on the scoresheet.
"It was very difficult," Saad said. "Even 11-on-11 against Houston is a difficult match with the smaller field, weather conditions and the game being physical. But even being down a man I felt like we were focused. We picked our moments to go."
"It was a good test of character," Dwyer said. "We managed the game well. Ten men for almost the entire game and to win 2-0 pretty comfortably, as well. We defended smartly...It was a lot of running for us, but we stayed in touch with the game. We were smart, and we got the result we deserved."
Only two other times in team history -- May 1, 2004 in a 2-0 home win over Colorado and March 26, 2011 in a 3-2 road loss at Chicago -- had Sporting KC netted twice in an MLS match while at a numerical disadvantage after a red card.
That covers a span of 618 MLS matches (including postseason) for the club, in which 70 total red cards have been shown to KC players all-time. Account for the four games that saw two KC players sent off in the same match and it whittles down to a batch of 66 matches. Out of those 66 games that finished with fewer than 11 players on the field for KC, the club holds a record of 12-37-17 (.311) with three of the dozen wins coming via shootout in the early era (1996-99) of Major League Soccer.
And only in 10 of those 66 games with a player ejected has Sporting KC overcome the odds to score shorthanded -- a feat the team has now accomplished in each of their past two such scenarios after Dwyer also scored four minutes after Erik Palmer-Brown's red card in Chicago last month.
"An unbelievable performance by the team," Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes said postgame on Friday. "This adversity has been incredible that we've had to go through. The guys have dealt with it incredibly well. It's amazing how we're still able to play and maintain our style of play even with all of the stuff that's gone on. I'm very proud of the team for an excellent result on the road. (Houston) is never an easy place to come play at and get a result; more importantly, doing it with 10 men."
EARLIEST EJECTIONS: TOP 5 FOR KC PLAYERS ALL-TIME
|1. Antonio Dovale||21'||2-0 W at HOU||6/6/2014|
|2. Mike Burns||27'||2-1 L at SJ||6/29/2002|
|2. Tony Meola||27'||2-2 T at LA||7/20/2002|
|4. Omar Bravo||32'||3-2 L at CHI||3/26/2011|
|5. Davy Arnaud||33'||3-0 L at HOU||5/1/2010|
EJECTIONS BY MATCH MINUTES: KC PLAYERS ALL-TIME
|0-15||16-30||31-45||46-60||61-75||76-90||91 or later|
SHORTHANDED GOALS: KC PLAYERS ALL-TIME
|Date||Result||Red Card||Goal(s) Scored|
|4/21/96||2-2 SOW at SJ||Sammy Ekeme (47')||Alan Prampin (87')|
|5/3/97||2-1 L at NE||Ryan Tinsley (83')||Preki (85')|
|9/2/98||3-2 L at COL||Refik Sabanadzovic (66')||Mark Chung (83')|
|7/20/02||2-2 T at LA||Tony Meola (27')||Carey Talley (46')|
|5/1/04||2-0 W vs COL||Jose Burciaga, Jr. (45')||Chris Klein (64'), Josh Wolff (84')|
|5/3/08||2-1 L at CLB||Roger Espinoza (36')||Claudio Lopez (79')|
|3/26/11||3-2 L at CHI||Omar Bravo (32')||Matt Besler (51'), Teal Bunbury (72')|
|6/12/11||4-1 W at DAL||Milos Stojcev (56')||Luke Sassano (78')|
|5/18/14||2-1 L at CHI||Erik Palmer-Brown (64')||Dom Dwyer (68')|
|6/6/14||2-0 W at HOU||Antonio Dovale (21')||Soony Saad (45'), Dom Dwyer (70')|