Sporting Kansas City fell to second place in the Supporters' Shield standings with a 2-1 defeat to the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park. Dom Dwyer moved into a tie for second on the MLS scoring charts with his fourth goal of 2016, but Colorado struck late in each half through Luis Solignac and Shkelzen Gashi to claim the road win.
Wednesday’s match commemorated the 20th anniversary of Sporting Kansas City’s inaugural game, a 3-0 win over the Rapids on April 13, 1996, at Arrowhead Stadium. A 74th consecutive sellout crowd at Children’s Mercy Park saw Colorado (3-2-1, 10 points) move within two points of Sporting Kansas City (4-2-0, 12 points) in the Western Conference table.
Manager Peter Vermes made four changes to the Sporting Kansas City lineup from Saturday’s 2-0 triumph over the New York Red Bulls. Center back Ike Opara earned his first start in more than a year after overcoming an Achilles injury, while 22-year-old Designated Player Diego Rubio spearheaded the attack. Right back Saad Abdul-Salaam and midfielder Jordi Quintilla also entered the fray.
Rubio was on the end of Sporting Kansas City’s best first-half scoring chance in the 40th minute. Graham Zusi spread a diagonal pass to Connor Hallisey, who flashed a low cross into the six-yard area from the left wing. Colorado goalkeeper Zac MacMath failed to corral the ball, and though Rubio was forced to react quickly, he poked the rebound wide of the post.
Sporting Kansas City would rue the miss a minute later. Colorado midfielder Marco Pappa squeezed a through ball to Argentine striker Luis Solignac, who hammered home just inside the near post. Pappa tallied his third assist of the season on the play, entering tie for second in MLS.
The match burst to life after the break as Vermes wielded offensive firepower from off the bench, introducing Dwyer, Benny Feilhaber and Brad Davis over the course of the second stanza. Sporting Kansas City nearly grabbed an equalizer in the 47th minute when Rubio beat Burling along the left endline, prevented the ball from rolling out of play and blashed a right-footed effort onto the crossbar.
The hosts stayed on the front foot, with Lawrence Olum firing narrowly wide off Zusi’s cross in the 54th minute. Shortly thereafter, Zusi was on the receiving end of Hallisey’s precise pass into the box, but the U.S. international’s one-time shot was blocked by the sliding Marc Burch.
Colorado survived another scare in the 67th minute when Opara latched onto the end of Feilhaber’s corner kick. The center back’s header was bound of the back of the net, but Gashi was positioned to nod the ball off the goal line.
Dwyer provided the long-awaited equalizer in the 77th minute. Hallisey curled a left-footed delivery into the penalty area from the right channel, where Dwyer glanced a header past MacMath to take sole possession of fourth place in club history with 40 career regular season goals. Hallisey recorded the second professional assist of his career, while Abdul-Salaam notched his second assist in as many games after setting up Dwyer on Saturday.
Sporting Kansas City appeared to be in the ascendancy — outshooting the Rapids 12-6 with a 78 percent edge in possession in the second half — but it was Colorado who grabbed the late game-winner. Dillon Serna’s swerving attempt from 30 yards rattled the woodwork, but Gashi was on hand to bury the rebound past Melia in the 82nd minute for his first MLS goal.
Davis came agonizingly close to salvaging a point for Sporting Kansas City in the 94th minute. Nuno Andre Coelho sent a long, looping ball into the penalty area that skipped once and eluded MacMath’s grasp before reaching Davis at the far post. The veteran’s thunderous strike pelted the crossbar before bouncing out of play, and referee Robert Sibiga whistled an end to the game seconds later.
A quick turnaround awaits for Sporting Kansas City, who begin a three-game road swing Sunday at first-place FC Dallas (4-1-2, 14 points). The Western Conference clash will kick off at 6 p.m. CT with national television coverage on FS1 and FOX Deportes.
2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 6 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 19,168 (74th straight sellout)
Weather: 67 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City (4-2-0, 12 pts)||0||1||1|
|Colorado Rapids (3-2-1, 10 pts)||1||1||2|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Nuno Andre Coelho, Ike Opara, Amadou Dia; Jordi Quintilla (Benny Feilhaber 46), Lawrence Olum (Brad Davis 72), Roger Espinoza; Connor Hallisey, Diego Rubio (Dom Dwyer 57), Graham Zusi (C)
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Jimmy Medranda
Colorado Rapids: Zac MacMath; Dillon Serna, Bobby Burling, Eric Miller, Marc Burch; Sam Cronin, Micheal Azira, Dominique Badji, Marco Pappa (Mekeil Williams 69), Shkelzen Gashi (Conor Doyle 89); Luis Solignac
Subs Not Used: Chris Froschauer, Zach Pfeffer
|Shots on Goal||3||6|
COL -- Marco Pappa (caution; unsporting behavior) 33
SKC -- Diego Rubio (caution; unsporting behavior) 52
COL -- Dillon Serna (caution; unsporting behavior) 57
COL -- Marc Burch (caution; unsporting behavior) 62
COL -- Luis Solignac 2 (Marco Pappa 3) 41
SKC -- Dom Dwyer 4 (Connor Hallisey 1, Saad Abdul-Salaam 2) 77
COL -- Shkelzen Gashi 1 (unassisted) 82