Recap: Jacob Peterson sparks comeback as Sporting KC tops Orlando City SC 2-1

Sporting Kansas City bounced back into the victory column Sunday with a thrilling 2-1 win over Orlando City SC at sold-out Children’s Mercy Park.

Dom Dwyer’s 50th goal for the club in all competitions drew Sporting Kansas City level in the 74th minute, setting the stage for substitute Jacob Peterson to cap his heroic cameo with the match-winner five minutes later.

A national television audience on ESPN saw Sporting Kansas City unleash an offensive barrage to the tune of 34 shot attempts, an all-time club record and third most in MLS regular season history. Sunday’s result gave Manager Peter Vermes his 100th MLS coaching win (including playoffs) and lifted his side into a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference (5-6-2, 17 points). Orlando City SC (2-3-5, 11 points) saw its winless streak hit six games as the Lions dropped to seventh in the East.

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In a game chalk-full of scoring opportunities, Peterson proved to be the difference maker with his first-ever one goal, one assist performance in an MLS match. The 11-year veteran came off the bench in the 69th minute, two minutes after Sporting KC fell behind through a Jimmy Medranda own goal, and twice helped breach the Orlando City defense to give his side its first win since April 9 and bring a seven-match winless skid to a halt.

Vermes fielded a strong lineup against the second-year MLS club as captain Matt Besler, midfielder Benny Feilhaber and winger Graham Zusi earned starts after missing Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at the Colorado Rapids. Brad Davis logged the 379th regular season appearance of his MLS career, moving into second place all-time among field players.

Sunday’s contest entertained from the start as both teams came within inches of scoring by the seven-minute mark. Vermes’ men threatened first when Medranda tried to pick out Dwyer inside the penalty area. The ball took a deflection and fell kindly to Zusi, whose curling effort from 20 yards rattled the crossbar. At the other end, former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaka slipped a perfectly weighted through ball to Brek Shea, who dragged a left-footed shot wide of the right post.

Dwyer nearly bagged his milestone goal much earlier in the match, latching onto the end of Nuno Coelho’s low-skipping cross and poking just clear of the near post in the 23rd minute. Davis tested Joe Bendik five minutes later, while Medranda’s long-range blast swerved marginally high shortly thereafter.

Orlando City weathered Sporting Kansas City’s 16 first-half shot attempts without conceding, thanks in large part to Bendik’s impressive showing between the posts. The goalkeeper denied both Dwyer and Zusi on the stroke of halftime — the latter coming at full extension to push the ball wide of goal — and ended the game with a career-high 10 saves.

Sporting Kansas City kept its foot on the pedal after the break. The tireless Roger Espinoza created a game-high six chances on Sunday, including a looping cross in the 56th minute to Dwyer, whose volley was blocked by Rafael Ramos. Espinoza was at it again on the hour-mark, lofting a square ball to Benny Feilhaber, but the snap-header was saved by Bendik.

Despite failing to register a shot on goal, the Lions created chances of their own and almost went ahead in the 61st minute, only for Shea’s curling strike to carry wide past the outstretched Tim Melia. 

Following a near-miss from Zusi, Orlando stunned the home crowd with a goal against the run of play. Kaka’s high-arching corner kick resulted in a frantic goalmouth scramble before the ball nestled into the back of the net. Medranda was credited with an own goal as the Lions continued their 10-game streak of scoring in every match this year.

Sporting Kansas City responded to the setback with vengeance, and their domination in the attacking third finally paid off in the 74th minute. Feilhaber scooped a delectable ball into the box for Peterson, whose cushioned header across the face of goal allowed Dwyer to nod home from close range.

Children’s Mercy Park was on its feet, and 19,080 spectators were treated to another goal in the 79th minute as Sporting Kansas City completed the comeback with its 34th and final shot attempt. Saad Abdul-Salaam found Espinoza on the right edge of the box, allowing the Honduran to clip a pinpoint pass to the far post. Peterson was on hand to send a diving header past Bendik, scoring his 17th career MLS goal and his 10th with Sporting KC in all competitions. Espinoza tallied his first assist of 2016 on the play, while Abdul-Salaam moved into the team lead with his fourth helper of the season.

The visitors managed one final opportunity in the 87th minute as Carlos Carlos Rivas’ side-volley whistled narrowly wide. Sporting KC midfielder Paulo Nagamura made his 2016 debut in second-half stoppage time, moments before final whistle condemned Orlando City to a sixth straight game without a win dating back to April 8. 

Next Saturday, the first 2016 edition of Major League Soccer’s Heineken Rivalry Week will see Sporting Kansas City host Real Salt Lake (5-3-2, 17 points) at Children’s Mercy Park. The match is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and a limited number of tickets are available at or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.

2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 13 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 19,080 (76th straight sellout)
Weather: 64 degrees and partly cloudy Links
Final: Full highlights
Postgame: Peter Vermes
Postgame: Jacob Peterson
Postgame: Dom Dwyer

Score 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (5-6-2, 17 pts) 0 2 2
Orlando City SC (2-3-5, 11 pts) 0 1 1

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Nuno Coelho, Matt Besler (C), Jimmy Medranda; Benny Feilhaber (Lawrence Olum 86), Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza (Paulo Nagamura 93+); Brad Davis (Jacob Peterson 69), Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Chance Myers, Connor Hallisey, Diego Rubio

Orlando City SC: Joe Bendik; Rafael Ramos, Tommy Redding, David Mateos, Brek Shea (Luke Boden 65); Darwin Ceren (Carlos Rivas 86), Servando Carrasco, Kevin Molino, Kaka (C), Antonio Nocerino; Cyle Larin (Julio Baptista 71)
Subs Not Used: Earl Edwards, Kevin Alston, Harrison Heath, Adrian Winter

Shots 34 7
Shots on Goal 13 0
Saves 0 10
Fouls 10 6
Offside 2 4
Corner Kicks 6 4

Misconduct Summary:
SKC -- Jimmy Medranda (caution; unsporting behavior) 49
SKC -- Nuno Coelho (caution; unsporting behavior) 84 

Scoring Summary:
ORL -- Own goal 1 (Jimmy Medranda 1) 67
SKC -- Dom Dwyer 5 (Jacob Peterson 1, Benny Feilhaber 2) 74
SKC -- Jacob Peterson 1 (Roger Espinoza 1, Saad Abdul-Salaam 4) 79