Sporting Kansas City extended its home unbeaten streak against LA Galaxy to eight games with a 1-1 draw on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park.
Midfielder Brad Davis fired Sporting Kansas City ahead with a spectacular left-footed strike on the half-hour mark, but the visitors responded just before halftime with a well-taken finish from Giovani dos Santos on the counterattack. Children’s Mercy Park was sold out for the 75th consecutive MLS match as Sporting Kansas City (4-4-2, 14 points) remained sixth in the Western Conference standings, one point behind fourth-place LA Galaxy (4-1-3, 15 points).
Sunday's starting lineup included six changes from a 1-1 draw at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday. Left back Seth Sinovic made his first start of 2016, Tim Melia returned between the posts and Ike Opara patrolled the right side of defense. Davis, Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi reprised attacking roles after coming off the bench four days earlier, while winger Justin Mapp was an available substitute for the first time in 2016 after overcoming a toe injury.
Sporting Kansas City held a 17-4 shot advantage on Sunday, with 10 attempts coming in the first half. Benny Feilhaber nearly opened the scoring in the 26th minute, collecting a pass from the active Jimmy Medranda outside the box. The midfielder moved the ball to his right foot and curled a shot narrowly wide of goalkeeper Brian Rowe’s lefthand post.
A moment of individual brilliance resulted in the game’s first goal on 30 minutes. Matt Besler sent a long diagonal ball to Zusi, who cushioned a header into the path of Davis along the left flank. Davis cut left and pulled the trigger from the edge of the box, curling the ball past the outstretched Rowe and just inside the far post for his 60th career MLS goal (including playoffs). Zusi picked up his third assist of the season, moving into a tie for fourth on the league’s 2016 assist charts, while Besler tallied the 11th assist of his MLS career.
Bruce Arena’s Galaxy side drew level in the 42nd minute on a swift counterattack. Jelle Van Damme’s headed clearance fell to Gyasi Zardes, who carried the ball into the middle third before spreading it wide to dos Santos along the right channel. The Mexican international raced into the penalty area before chipping past Melia for his fourth goal in three games.
The hosts went close to regaining the lead in the final minute of the first half. A scramble in the penalty box ended with Opara latching onto a loose ball, only to send his effort a yard wide of the target. The game’s two goals resulted from each team’s lone shot on target, meaning Sunday’s contest was the seventh in MLS history to finish without a save.
LA was reduced to 10 men in the 70th minute, giving Sporting Kansas City an edge for the remainder of the game. Defender Ashley Cole received two yellow cards within the space of 31 seconds to mark the fourth time a Sporting KC opponent has received a red card this season.
Mapp, who joined Sporting KC in December as Major League Soccer’s first-ever free agent signing, made his club debut in the 82nd minute. The 15-year veteran replaced Medranda, who earned applause from fans throughout the evening for his liveliness up and down the pitch.
Winless in five straight games, Sporting Kansas City is back on the road Saturday to face Western Conference rivals Houston Dynamo (1-5-2, 5 points) at BBVA Compass Stadium. The match will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT with three hours of live television coverage on 38 The Spot and SKCTV beginning at 7 p.m. CT.
2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 10 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 19,431 (75th straight sellout)
Weather: 55 degrees and cloudy
|Sporting Kansas City (4-4-2, 14 pts)||1||0||1|
|LA Galaxy (4-1-3, 15 pts)||1||0||1|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Ike Opara, Nuno Andre Coelho, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic; Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber; Jimmy Medranda (Justin Mapp 82), Dom Dwyer, Brad Davis
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Chance Myers, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Paulo Nagamura, Lawrence Olum, Diego Rubio
LA Galaxy: Brian Rowe; A.J. DeLaGarza, Daniel Steres, Jelle Van Damme, Ashley Cole; Sebastian Lletget (Jeff Larentowicz 62), Mike Magee (Robbie Rogers 72), Giovani dos Santos (Jose Villarreal 90), Baggio Husidic, Emmanuel Boateng; Gyasi Zardes
Subs Not Used: Dan Kennedy, Leonardo, Rafael Garcia, Jose Villarreal, Bradford Jamieson
|Shots on Goal||1||1|
LA -- Ashley Cole (caution; time wasting) 69
LA -- Ashley Cole (ejection, second caution; unsporting behavior) 70
SKC -- Ike Opara (caution; unsporting behavior) 82
LA -- Jose Villarreal (caution; time wasting) 90+4
SKC -- Brad Davis 2 (Graham Zusi 3, Matt Besler 1) 30
LA -- Giovani dos Santos 4 (Gyasi Zardes 2) 42