Sporting Kansas City took its second straight 1-0 defeat on Saturday night, falling to the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Second-half substitute Marlon Hairston scored the game-winner in the 78th minute, giving the Rapids (10-2-7, 37 points) their third win over Sporting Kansas City (8-10-4, 28 points) this season.
The result drops Sporting Kansas City to sixth place in the Western Conference table and extends Colorado's club-record unbeaten run to 14 games. The Rapids collected their fifth consecutive win in the regular season series, while Sporting Kansas City's road winless skid hit nine games.
With his team playing its third game in seven days, Manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the starting lineup from Wednesday's 1-0 setback at the Chicago Fire. Lawrence Olum earned his 100th appearance for the club in all competitions, replacing Matt Besler in central defense, while Connor Hallisey made way for Brad Davis on the left side of a three-pronged attack. Midfielder Roger Espinoza started his 150th regular season match in Kansas City colors, and goalkeeper Tim Melia played his 50th game for the team across all competitions.
A cagey first half produced few scoring opportunities from either side. Colorado forward Shkelzen Gashi delivered a fleeting scare in the 18th minute, but his venomous 25-yard free kick bent narrowly over the crossbar.
The game’s first shot on target came on the half-hour mark courtesy of Dom Dwyer. The English striker received a pass from Benny Feilhaber and blasted a long-range effort straight at U.S. international goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was making his third appearance for Colorado after spending the previous 13 years in the English Premier League.
Vermes was forced to make his first substitution five minutes after the restart when Davis suffered a left calf strain. Hallisey took his place, equaling his rookie total from last season with his 13th MLS appearance of 2016.
Saturday’s contest opened up in the 54th minute when Feilhaber scooped a clever ball into the penalty area for Dwyer, whose acrobatic bicycle kick attempt was saved by Howard. The goalkeeper wasted no time thumping the ball far downfield for Doyle, whose low delivery from the right flank was hammered high by Dillon Powers.
Powers turned provider 11 minutes later, sliding an incisive through ball into the path of Hairston. The midfielder was past Sporting KC’s back line but could not beat Melia, who made a superb reflex save to keep the match scoreless. The hosts continued to gain a foothold in the attacking half and nearly broke through again in the 68th minute, but Ike Opara recovered brilliantly to block Doyle’s shot on the breakaway.
Hairston had made a noticeable impact on proceedings since his 62nd-minute introduction and grabbed the winner with 12 minutes remaining. The 22-year-old intercepted a pass near midfield and played to Powers before settling a return pass 30 yards from goal. Hairston took a touch toward the middle and curled an impressive right-footed strike past the outstretched Melia for his first goal of the campaign.
Colorado went close to doubling their lead three minutes later when Shkelzen Gashi clipped a shot inches wide of the left post after beating Melia to a bouncing ball on the right side of the box.
Seeking a late equalizer, Sporting Kansas City threw numbers forward and were controversially denied a penalty kick in the 92nd minute. Substitute Diego Rubio appeared to have his right leg swiped by Jared Watts, but referee Drew Fischer waved play to continue and blew the full-time whistle two minutes later.
Sporting Kansas City returns home next Sunday to host perennial playoff contender Seattle Sounders FC (6-10-2, 20 points) at Children's Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. CT and the match will be televised nationally on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. A limited number of tickets for the Western Conference clash are available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 22 of 34
Dick's Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, Colorado
Weather: 88 degrees and partly cloudy
|Sporting Kansas City (8-10-4, 28 pts)||0||0||0|
|Colorado Rapids (10-2-7, 37 pts)||0||1||1|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara, Lawrence Olum, Jimmy Medranda; Benny Feilhaber, Soni Mustivar (Justin Mapp 86), Roger Espinoza (C); Jacob Peterson, Dom Dwyer (Diego Rubio 86), Brad Davis (Connor Hallisey 50)
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis
Colorado Rapids: Tim Howard; Mekeil Williams, Jared Watts, Axel Sjoberg, Marc Burch; Sam Cronin (C), Micheal Azira, Marco Pappa (Marlon Hairston 62), Dillon Powers, Shkelzen Gashi (Luis Solignac 87); Kevin Doyle
Subs Not Used: Zac MacMath, Bobby Burling, Dennis Castillo, Conor Doyle, Dominique Badji
|Shots on Goal||3||2|
SKC -- Lawrence Olum (caution; unsporting behavior) 43
COL -- Sam Cronin (caution; unsporting behavior) 44
SKC -- Ike Opara (caution; unsporting behavior) 63
COL -- Marlon Hairston 1 (Dillon Powers 2) 78