Two years after scoring in the final minute at Rio Tinto Stadium for a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City's fortunes were reversed on Sunday as the club's eight-game unbeaten run was snapped in dramatic fashion. Real Salt Lake forward Olmes Garcia scored in the 93rd minute on a fortuitous deflection to secure his team's first win in the series since 2011.
The Western Conference rivals exchanged goals in the first half with Real Salt Lake Designated Player Sebastian Jaime opening the scoring in the 15th minute and Dom Dwyer equalizing for Sporting Kansas City 15 minutes later. The scoreline remained level until Garcia - 10 minutes after entering the match as a second-half substitute - struck a low shot that skipped off the foot of Kevin Ellis and carried over goalkeeper Tim Melia to match the latest game-winning goal in Real Salt Lake history.
Each goalkeeper - formerly teammates during the 2010 and 2011 seasons - made four saves on the night, beginning with Nick Rimando in the fifth minute to push a shot from Roger Espinoza over the bar. On the opposite end, Justen Glad's header came close to crossing the goalline on a corner kick from Javier Morales in the 10th minute however Benny Feilhaber reacted well to head the ball away from danger at the final moment.
Five minutes later, it was again Morales' delivery that set up a teammate and this time produced the home side's breakthrough. The Argentine drew the free kick opportunity inside the attacking half and lofted in a cross for his fellow countryman to head home as Jaime's shot kissed the underside of the crossbar on its way into the back of the net.
The woodwork wasn't as kind in the 25th minute as Devon Sandoval saw a header of his own crash into the post from eight yards out, a miss that loomed large when Sporting KC drew even five minutes later. Feilhaber attracted the attention of Glad and subsequently slipped a through ball into the space vacated by the central defender to earn his League-leading eighth assist of the season as Dwyer made no mistake with a sliding first-time finish past Rimando.
Dwyer is now one of three Sporting KC players with five goals in 2015 - a feat not seen in all of 2014 for the club - and has scored in each of his past three road games. The Englishman now has 31 career MLS goals (including postseason) and nearly grabbed his second of the night in the 64th minute, snapping his header downward off a cross from Jalil Anibaba only to be turned away by the quick reflexes of Rimando.
Melia, who suffered his first loss (5-1-2) since earning the starting role, made his best two saves of the match in the final 15 minutes by twice denying Sandoval. His foot save in the 76th minute did enough to direct an attempt from point-blank range over the crossbar; then in the 92nd minute he sprawled high to his right to keep Sandoval's header out of the net.
The Real Salt Lake pressure paid off a minute later, however, as Garcia scored his first goal since August of 2014 to secure all three points for RSL. Sporting Kansas City's three losses remain fewest in MLS with the team's last two defeats coming on goals conceded in the 93rd and 94th minutes.
Sporting Kansas City will now return home to host the Colorado Rapids at 7:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, June 27 at Sporting Park. A limited number of tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com and the first 10,000 fans inside the gates will receive a Sporting KC cinch bag courtesy of the Darol Rodrock Foundation.
Major League Soccer
Regular Season: Game 15
Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, UT
Weather: 86 degrees and partly cloudy
|Sporting KC (6-3-6, 24 pts)||1||0||0|
|Real Salt Lake (5-5-6, 21 pts)||1||1||2|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jalil Anibaba, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler (c), Amadou Dia (Saad Abdul-Salaam 91+); Soni Mustivar, Benny Feilhaber, Roger Espinoza; Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Krisztian Nemeth (Jacob Peterson 75)
Subs Not Used: Jon Kempin, Servando Carrasco, Marcel de Jong, Connor Hallisey, Chance Myers
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Justen Glad, Aaron Maund, Demar Phillips; Luke Mulholland (Luis Gil 70), Kyle Beckerman (c), Javier Morales; Sebastian Jaime (Jordan Allen 69), Devon Sandoval, Joao Plata (Olmes Garcia 83)
Subs Not Used: Jeff Attinella, John Stertzer, Phanuel Kavita, Sebastian Saucedo
|Shots on Goal||5||7|
SKC -- Soni Mustivar (caution; reckless tackle) 8
SKC -- Matt Besler (caution; reckless foul) 14
RSL -- Javier Morales (caution; reckless foul) 15
RSL -- Demar Phillips (caution; reckless tackle) 18
RSL -- Kyle Beckerman (caution; reckless foul) 47
RSL -- Sebastian Jaime (caution; reckless foul) 51
RSL -- Olmes Garcia (caution; unsporting behavior) 93+
RSL -- Sebastian Jaime 1 (Javier Morales 4) 15
SKC -- Dom Dwyer 5 (Benny Feilhaber 8) 30
RSL -- Olmes Garcia 1 (Javier Morales 5) 93+