Match Recap

Recap: Erik Thommy on target as Sporting ties Houston 1-1 in season opener

Erik Thommy’s brilliant second-half goal helped Sporting Kansas City (0-0-1, 1 point) to a hard-earned 1-1 road draw against Houston Dynamo FC (0-0-0, 1 point) to open the 2024 MLS regular season on Saturday night at Shell Energy Stadium in Houston.

Thommy opened the scoring with an impressive solo effort in the 61st minute, his ninth career tally in a Sporting uniform, before substitute Gabe Segal nodded Houston level eight minutes later. The result extends Sporting’s regular season unbeaten run against the Dynamo to seven matches dating back to 2021.

Sporting will now begin preparations for their highly anticipated Children’s Mercy Park home opener against the Philadelphia Union (0-0-1, 1 point) next Saturday, March 2. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT with tickets available at and live coverage on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV.

In his 500th MLS match as Sporting’s manager, Peter Vermes fielded a near-identical starting XI from Sporting’s 1-0 loss at Houston in the 2023 Western Conference semifinals exactly 90 days earlier. Thommy accounted for the lone lineup change in midfield, making his 51st consecutive MLS appearance since debuting for the club in July 2022. On the opposite sideline, Houston was forced to account for several key absences as Franco Escobar (leg), Sebastian Ferreira (hamstring), Hector Herrera (knee) and Nelson Quinones (knee) missed out through injury, while Amine Bassi was unavailable after receiving his green card Saturday in France.

Sporting striker Alan Pulido entered the night with six career MLS goals against Houston—his most against any opponent—and conjured the first shot attempt of the game inside five minutes. After a searching long ball into the box was repelled to the top of the area, the 2023 MLS Comeback Player of the Year laced a low drive that dragged marginally wide of the target.

The hosts responded with a fleeting chance of their own in the 11th minute when midfielder Artur and Coco Carrasquilla played an intricate give-and-go on the right side of the penalty area, but the former’s chip shot effort at a tight angle failed to test Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Near the half-hour juncture, homegrown winger and freshly minted Designated Player Daniel Salloi—playing in his 57th straight MLS match since June 2022—put Houston goalkeeper Steve Clark to the test with a simmering 25-yard piledriver. The Dynamo again offered a reply as Polish midfielder Sebastian Kowalczyk slithered into the box and unleashed a strike that Dany Rosero did well to block.

Houston appeared to have surged ahead in the 42nd minute when Brad Smith planted a pinpoint header past Melia, but Carrasquilla was in an offside position during the play’s buildup and the goal was correctly disallowed following a VAR intervention.

Thommy vaulted Sporting ahead superbly on the hour mark. Winning possession in the center of the park, the German midfielder embarked on a marauding diagonal run goalward and fired low from 17 yards, surrounded by a slew of Houston defenders. Thommy’s strike fizzed between the legs of center back Erik Sviatchenko and nestled low across Clark and into the right corner for Sporting’s first goal of 2024.

Sporting’s lead didn’t last long as Houston landed a counterpunch with 69 minutes on the clock. Carrasquilla’s driven diagonal ball to the left side of the penalty area was headed back across goal by Ibrahim Aliyu, setting up an unmarked Segal for a close-range header that restored parity and denied Melia his bid for a shutout.

Three players earned their Sporting debuts in the late stages of a delicately poised battle between familiar foes. Midfielder Memo Rodriguez entered in the 74th minute to face his former club, left back Zorhan Bassong had a quarter-hour cameo of his own, and 20-year-old forward Alenis Vargas made his first MLS appearance in the 86th minute.

Rodriguez was active and involved in the dying embers of the contest, seeing a deflected strike loop high and wide, before Melia produced two smart saves to keep the score at 1-1. He dropped low to smother a header from Sviatchenko in the 78th minute, then thwarted Kowalczyk on 86 minutes in what was the final scoring chance of the night.

2024 MLS Regular Season | Match 1
Shell Energy Stadium | Houston, Texas
Attendance: 18,818
Weather: 69 degrees and clear

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Houston Dynamo FC
Sporting Kansas City (0-0-1, 1 point)
Houston Dynamo FC (0-0-1, 1 point)

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jake Davis, Dany Rosero, Andreu Fontas, Tim Leibold (Zorhan Bassong 74'); Nemanja Radoja, Remi Walter, Erik Thommy (Memo Rodriguez 74'); Johnny Russell (C) (Stephen Afrifa 59'), Alan Pulido (Willy Agada 59'), Daniel Salloi (Alenis Vargas 86')

Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Robert Castellanos, Robert Voloder, Felipe Hernandez

Houston Dynamo FC: Steve Clark (C); Griffin Dorsey, Erik Sviatchenko, Micael, Tate Schmitt; Artur, Coco Carrasquilla, Brooklyn Raines (Jan Gregus 67'); Sebastian Kowalczyk, Ibrahim Aliyu, Brad Smith (Gabe Segal 67')

Subs Not Used: Andrew Tarbell, Femi Awodesu, Kieran Sargeant, Daniel Steres, Diego Gonzalez, Ousmane Sylla, Stephen Annor Gyamfi

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Erik Thommy 1 (unassisted) 61'
HOU -- Gabe Segal 1 (Ibrahim Aliyu 1, Coco Carrasquilla 1) 69'

Misconduct Summary:
SKC -- Johnny Russell (yellow card; dissent) 57'
SKC -- Erik Thommy (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 67'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Jaime Herrera
Assistant Referee: Raidel Toledo
Assistant Referee: Irvin Castilla
Fourth Official: Christopher Calderon
VAR: Ian Anderson