Sporting Kansas City secured a second straight 0-0 draw to open the 2017 season on Saturday, splitting the points with FC Dallas in the club’s home opener at Children’s Mercy Park.
Dom Dwyer, Jimmy Medranda and MLS debutant Latif Blessing all came close to providing the breakthrough for Sporting Kansas City (0-0-2, 2 points), but an organized defensive performance from the reigning Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup champions allowed FC Dallas (1-0-1, 4 points) to emerge with a road result amidst frigid playing conditions.
Manager Peter Vermes fielded an unchanged lineup from Week 1 as Sporting Kansas City claimed back-to-back clean sheets to open an MLS campaign for the first time since 2012. The result also extended the club’s home unbeaten run against FC Dallas to seven games in all competitions.
An electric atmosphere at Children’s Mercy Park fueled a feverish tempo in the early stages. High pressure from Sporting Kansas City led to a free kick along the right endline in the fifth minute, but Benny Feilhaber’s delivery to the top of the box was hammered over by Medranda.
FC Dallas would weather the early siege and create two chances before the half-hour mark. Newly acquired forward Cristian Colman led a breakaway in the 25th minute that resulted in a shot from Tesho Akindele, but goalkeeper Tim Melia had raced off his line to smother the attempt. Four minutes later, Colman ran onto Akindele’s low cross and fired a bullet that rattled the outside of Melia’s left-hand post.
The hosts regrouped and strengthened before halftime as Dwyer and Medranda nearly gave Sporting Kansas City the lead. Feilhaber’s clever chip over the defense in the 35th minute was neatly chested down by Dwyer, but the Englishman was unable to strike the ball cleanly with his patented left foot. Shortly thereafter, goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez batted Gerso’s looping cross only as far as Medranda, whose acrobatic side volley whistled narrowly over the crossbar. Ilie then saw his deflected effort skip marginally wide in the final action of the first period.
U.S. international Kellyn Acosta entered the fray for FC Dallas as a halftime substitute, affording the visitors more stability in the midfield. But an increasingly cagey affair almost broke open in the 58th minute when Medranda cut into the middle from the left wing and served a delightful diagonal cross into the penalty area for an unmarked Dwyer, who snapped a bouncing header wide.
Vermes made his first substitution of the year in the 67th minute, giving 20-year-old forward Latif Blessing his maiden MLS appearance. Sporting Kansas City continued to dominate possession and territory in the final quarter-hour, with Gerso volleying high after FC Dallas failed to clear Feilhaber’s corner kick.
An 88th straight sellout crowd at Children’s Mercy Park collectively rued Sporting Kansas City’s misfortune in the 87th minute when Feilhaber’s free kick was flicked toward the far post and just beyond the leaping Ike Opara. A glorious opportunity then fell Blessing’s way in the 91st minute, but the diminutive Ghanaian was unable to steer his volley on target following Gerso’s service into the box.
Sporting Kansas City returns to Children's Mercy Park for next Saturday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes (2-0-0, 6 points), who are off to a perfect start in 2017 with two home wins. The Western Conference clash will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City, and a limited number of tickets are available at SeatGeek.com.
2017 MLS Regular Season
Game 2 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 19,117 (88th straight sellout)
Weather: 31 degrees and clear
|Sporting Kansas City (0-0-2, 2 pts)||0||0||0|
|FC Dallas (1-0-1, 4 pts)||0||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C), Seth Sinovic; Benny Feilhaber, Ilie, Roger Espinoza; Jimmy Medranda (Latif Blessing 67), Dom Dwyer, Gerso
Subs Not Used: Adrian Zendejas, Kevin Ellis, Igor Juliao, Soni Mustivar, Daniel Salloi, Soony Saad
FC Dallas: Jesse Gonzalez; Atiba Harris, Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges (C), Aaron Guillen; Carlos Cermeno, Carlos Gruezo, Paxton Pomykal (Michael Barrios 80), Jacori Hayes (Kellyn Acosta 46), Tesho Akindele; Cristian Colman (Roland Lamah 63)
Subs Not Used: Chris Seitz, Hernan Grana, Walker Zimmerman, Maximiliano Urruti
|Shots on Goal||2||4|
FCD -- Aaron Guillen (caution; handball) 4
FCD -- Maynor Figueroa (caution; unsporting behavior) 29
FCD -- Atiba Harris (caution; unsporting behavior) 69
SKC -- Seth Sinovic (caution; unsporting behavior) 79
SKC -- Dom Dwyer (caution; argument) 81
FCD -- Carlos Gruezo (caution; unsporting behavior) 86
FCD -- Carlos Cermeno (caution; unsporting behavior) 92+
SKC -- Gerso (caution; dissent) 95+