An all too familiar narrative has reared its ugly head over the course of Sporting Kansas City’s 2016 season: dominate in possession, shots and chance creation, only to settle for less than three points by the end of the night.


This trend is perfectly illustrated by the last three meetings between Sporting Kansas City and the LA Galaxy. Peter Vermes’ men outshot LA by a combined 53-9 while enjoying plenty of possession in the opponent’s half, yet came away with three draws.


Heading into Saturday’s pivotal road fixture against the San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City boasted multiple statistics that suggested the club should find itself further up the standings:


  • Leading MLS in shots per game (14.8) and fewest shots faced per game (8.9)
  • Leading MLS in possession (56.2 percent)
  • Third in MLS in chances created per game (10.5)
  • Leading MLS in corner kick discrepancy (plus-96 — 182 taken, 86 conceded)


That brings us to the action that unfolded during a tense evening at Avaya Stadium. In a match that pitted two teams desperate for a victory, Sporting Kansas City flipped the script that has come to define most of the 2016 campaign.



Dom Dwyer scored early and Kevin Ellis scored late, giving Vermes’ side three precious points in their push for the playoffs while sticking a proverbial dagger in San Jose’s postseason hopes. Sporting Kansas City got the job done in an atypical manner, as the following table shows.


SPORTING KC AT SAN JOSE -- SEPT. 24, 2016

<strong>STAT</strong>
<strong>SKC</strong>
<strong>SJ</strong>
<strong>NOTES</strong>
Shots
6
16
Sporting KC finished with a season-low in shots and a minus-10 shot discrepancy, their second worst of 2016
Corners
1
9
Sporting KC's minus-eight corner kick discrepancy was its worst of 2016
Possession
36.7
63.3
Sporting KC's second-lowest share of possession in 2016
Chances created
4
8
Sporting KC's season-low, and just the second time the opponent had double the chances created in 2016
Clearances
39
4
Sporting KC was forced into a season-high 39 clearances, while San Jose had a season-low four.
Crosses (open play)
4
19
Sporting KC's season low, and its worst discrepancy (-15) against any opponent in 2016

These numbers make it plain to see that Saturday's win strayed from the conventional storyline. As a result, Sporting Kansas City has a bit more breathing room in the playoff race — two points ahead of sixth-place Portland and eight ahead of the Seattle Sounders, who have three games in hand entering today's road game against LA. In his postgame press conference, Vermes called the victory "ginormous," and he couldn't be more correct.


Two stars from Saturday were Sporting Kansas City's respective leaders in goals and assists. Dom Dwyer's 7th-minute header gave him three goals in his last three games, while Benny Feilhaber notched his sixth and seventh assists in his last eight MLS appearances. Both players are rewriting the club history books, so let's start with the English striker.


Dwyer is tied for fourth in MLS with a team-best 15 goals, which now stands as Kansas City's third-best scoring haul in the regular season. The center forward has been excellent since the turn of September and now has three games left to catch Preki's 18-goal mark set in 1996.


SPORTING KC: MOST GOALS IN A SINGLE REGULAR SEASON

<strong>YEAR</strong>
<strong>PLAYER</strong>
<strong>GOALS</strong>
2014
Dom Dwyer
22
1996
Preki
18
<strong>2016</strong>
<strong>Dom Dwyer</strong>
<strong>15</strong>
2007
Eddie Johnson
15
1996
Vitalis Takawira
13

Feilhaber, meanwhile, tallied assists on each of Sporting Kansas City's goals at Avaya Stadium. He was credited with a secondary assist on Paulo Nagamura's back-post cross to Dwyer, then set up Kevin Ellis' 81st-minute winner with a well-taken corner kick. Feilhaber now has 11 assists this season, joining Preki as the two players in club history to reach double-digit assists in multiple regular seasons.


SPORTING KC: DOUBLE-DIGIT ASSISTS IN REGULAR SEASON

<strong>PLAYER</strong>
<strong>YEAR</strong>
<strong>ASSISTS</strong>
Preki
1997<br> 2003<br> 2000<br> 1996<br> 1998<br> 1999<br> 2002
17<br> 17<br> 15<br> 13<br> 13<br> 11<br> 10
Benny Feilhaber
2015<br><strong>2016</strong>
15<br><strong>11</strong>
Graham Zusi
2012
15
Josh Wolff
2005
10

Feilhaber continues to to be one of the most productive midfielders around the league. With his two assists on Saturday, the 31-year-old is one shy of his compatriot Sacha Kljestan for the most combined goals and assists among MLS midfielders since the start of 2015.


MOST GOALS + ASSISTS SINCE 2015
MLS MIDFIELDERS (REGULAR SEASON)

<strong>Player</strong>
<strong>Club</strong>
<strong>Goals + assists</strong>
Sacha Kljestan
New York Red Bulls
<strong>43</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;(13 G, 30 A)
Benny Feilhaber
Sporting KC
<strong>42</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;(16 G, 26 A)
Ethan Finlay
Columbus Crew SC
<strong>39</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;(18 G, 21 A)
Ignacio Piatti
Montreal Impact
<strong>36</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;(23 G, 13 A)
Mauro Diaz
FC Dallas
<strong>34</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;(13 G, 21 A)

And last but not least, we'd be remiss not to mention the 16-year skid that Sporting Kansas City snapped against the Earthquakes. For the first time since Aug. 16, 2000, Kansas City emerged from San Jose with a victory. The result ended a 16-game MLS slide (18 inlcuding playoffs) that included 11 defeats and five ties. Where does that regular season winless run rank all-time? We leave you with the list below, as Sporting KC narrowly avoided making league history for the wrong reason.


Here's to Kansas City's first road win since April and its first win at San Jose in 5,873 days...


LONGEST WINLESS STREAKS VS. SAME OPPONENT
MLS REGULAR SEASON HISTORY

<strong>Team</strong>
<strong>Opponent</strong>
<strong>Games</strong>
<strong>Started</strong>
<strong>Stopped</strong>
<strong>Days lasted</strong>
NY
NE
17
9/21/02
6/8/14
4278
KC
SJ
16
8/26/00
9/24/16
5873
COL
RSL
14
9/22/07
Active
NY
CHI
14
10/5/05
10/25/15
3672
COL
DAL
13
5/18/02
9/4/08
2301
COL
KC
13
8/22/03
10/21/15
4443