Sporting Kansas City conceded late in a 1-0 defeat to D.C. United on Friday at a rain-drenched Children’s Mercy Park. Substitute Alhaji Kamara provided the decisive strike in the 86th minute, just 33 seconds into his MLS debut, to separate the sides in a match delayed two and a half hours plus another 60 minutes at halftime due to inclement weather in the Kansas City area.
The result keeps Sporting Kansas City (5-8-2, 17 points) in seventh place in the Western Conference, while D.C. United (4-5-4, 16 points) collected its first road win since August 2015 to jump above the red line and into sixth place in the East.
Manager Peter Vermes shuffled his lineup to the tune of six changes as Matt Besler (USA), Graham Zusi (USA) and Soni Mustivar (Haiti) were on international duty for Copa America Centenario. Homegrown defender Kevin Ellis made his first appearance since April 9 after overcoming a groin injury, while Jordi Quintilla returned to the fold after a month on loan with the Swope Park Rangers. Midfielder Paulo Nagamura and forward Jacob Peterson earned their first starts of 2016, Ike Opara stepped into central defense and Lawrence Olum assumed holding midfield duties.
Sporting Kansas City seized attacking initiative in the early stages, manufacturing the first scoring chance within eight minutes. Jimmy Medranda’s curling cross from the left flank found Dom Dwyer, who glanced a header narrowly wide of Bill Hamid’s lefthand post. Brad Davis came even nearer to breaking the deadlock 10 minutes later, receiving a cutback pass from Peterson and firing inches above the crossbar from 15 yards.
D.C. United started on their heels but settled into proceedings and nearly breached Sporting Kansas City’s defense in the 20th minute. Marcelo Sarvas lobbed a teasing ball over the top to Nick DeLeon, but Opara did wonderfully to stick in his foot, win the ball cleanly and clear the danger.
The visitors thought they had grabbed the lead in the 26th minute after Luciano Acosta received a through ball from DeLeon and slotted low past Tim Melia, but the offside flag was up.
Olum went agonizingly close to scoring twice within a minute before halftime. The Kenyan international first latched onto the end of Davis’ corner kick in the 37th minute, requiring Hamid to palm the ball beyond the right post. D.C. United failed to clear the subsequent corner kick, allowing Olum to rifle a left-footed volley just high of the target.
The second half commenced after a 60-minute weather delay as heavy rain fell upon a sold-out Children’s Mercy Park. D.C. threatened twice in quick succession shortly after the restart, but neither Lamar Neagle nor Kofi Opare could steer their short-range efforts on frame.
Ellis produced a pair of resolute defensive plays around the hour mark, first lunging to win the ball from Espindola on the edge of the box and then sliding to block Jared Jeffrey’s long-range bullet on the counterattack.
The Black-and-Red stole a late winner with four minutes remaining. Kamara, a 22-year-old Sierra Leonean with a congenital heart disease who was cleared to play earlier this month, settled a loose ball near the penalty spot and buried his left-footed drive into the right corner of the net. The goal would snap D.C. United’s 11-game road winless streak dating back to last season and hand Sporting KC its fourth home loss of 2016.
Ellis almost salvaged a point for Sporting Kansas City, but his blistering shot in the 88th minute was saved impressively by Hamid's outstretched hand.
With a three-game homestand in the books, Sporting Kansas City is back on the road Thursday to face five-time MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy (5-1-5, 20 points) at StubHub Center in Carson, California. The Galaxy are the only one-loss team in MLS and lead the league with 25 goals through 11 games. The Western Conference tilt will kick off at 9:30 p.m. CT with three hours of live television coverage on 38 The Spot and SKCTV beginning at 9 p.m. CT.
2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 15 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 19,118 (78th straight sellout)
Weather: 68 degrees and rainy
|Sporting Kansas City (5-8-2, 17 pts)||0||0||0|
|D.C. United (4-5-4, 16 pts)||0||1||1|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Saad Abdul-Salaam (Chance Myers 66), Kevin Ellis, Ike Opara, Jimmy Medranda; Paulo Nagamura (C), Lawrence Olum, Jordi Quintilla (Benny Feilhaber 46); Brad Davis (Justin Mapp 76), Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Seth Sinovic, Connor Hallisey, Diego Rubio
D.C. United: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Kofi Opare, Bobby Boswell (C), Taylor Kemp; Nick DeLeon, Jared Jeffrey, Marcelo Sarvas, Lamar Neagle (Alhaji Kamara 86); Fabian Espindola (Rob Vincent 74), Luciano Acosta (Julian Buescher 77)
Subs Not Used: Travis Worra, Jalen Robinson, Luke Mishu, Miguel Aguilar
|Shots on Goal||3||2|
DC -- Marcelo Sarvas (caution; unsporting behavior) 7
DC -- Jared Jeffrey (caution; unsporting behavior) 42
DC -- Lamar Neagle (caution; unsporting behavior) 68
SKC -- Dom Dwyer (caution; persistent infringement) 71
SKC -- Paulo Nagamura (caution; unsporting behavior) 78
DC -- Alhaji Kamara 1 (Taylor Kemp 1) 86