Diego Rubio and Gerso struck late in either half as Sporting Kansas City defeated FC Dallas 2-0 on Saturday to reclaim first place in the Western Conference standings.
Defender Graham Zusi assisted both goals, with Rubio volleying home off a corner kick in the 42nd minute before substitute Gerso was set free down the right flank and curled a stunning strike into the far corner with 92 minutes on the clock.
On a night the club celebrated its 100th consecutive MLS sellout at Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting Kansas City (10-5-10, 40 points) pushed their home unbeaten run to 22 regular season matches, now tied for the fourth-longest such streak in Major League Soccer history.
The victory lifted Manager Peter Vermes’ men three points clear in a tight race for top spot in the West, while FC Dallas (9-6-8, 35 points) saw their winless drought in Kansas City reach nine games across all competitions. Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia also earned his MLS-leading 10th clean sheet of the campaign, dropping his goals against average to a league-low 0.76.
Both sides fielded strong lineups in a marquee matchup that pitted the 2016 Supporters’ Shield champions against this year’s U.S. Open Cup finalists. Melia was forced to make his first of two saves in the ninth minute, sprawling low to block Cristian Colman’s shot following a through ball from Maximiliano Urruti. Daniel Salloi threatened at the opposite end two minutes later, combining with Rubio on the left edge of the box before rifling marginally wide of frame.
FC Dallas caused a scare near the half-hour mark when Michael Barrios’ in-swinging free kick fizzed across the face of goal and reached the far post, where Ilie intervened crucially to prevent Urruti from steering a shot goalward.
The hosts enjoyed a barnstorming end to the first half, as Salloi again narrowly missed from distance in the 36th minute. Shortly thereafter, Espinoza’s stinging bullet from 25 yards was palmed away by Jesse Gonzalez.
The FC Dallas goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent Rubio’s game-winner just before halftime. Zusi’s out-swinging corner was met with vengeance by the Chilean forward, who lashed a clean volley off the underside of the crossbar and into the bulging net. Rubio tallied his third goal of the year in all competitions, while Zusi would record his 24th game-winning assist to surpass Preki and move atop Sporting KC’s all-time regular season chart in that category.
Cristian Lobato was unfortunate not to double Sporting Kansas City’s lead on the stroke of intermission. His superb curler from 22 yards was destined for the top left corner, but Gonzalez leapt at full extension to touch the ball over the crossbar. Rubio was again able to latch onto Zusi’s corner on the ensuing set piece, but his headed effort was nodded off the goal line by Maynor Figueroa.
Vermes’ side kept its foot on the pedal after the restart. Gonzalez would produce two impressive stops to deny Salloi, diving low to push aside a long-range blast before kick-saving a side-footer off Rubio’s clever cutback pass from the right side of the box.
In search of an equalizer, FC Dallas seized attacking initiative and almost drew level on 74 minutes. Kellyn Acosta’s lovely, looping ball over the top was settled neatly by substitute Tesho Akindele near the penalty spot, but Jimmy Medranda’s pivotal tackle extinguished the danger. The visitors probed again in the 90th minute when Melia batted Urruti’s 22-yard dipper wide of his right-hand post.
Gerso sealed the win in spectacular fashion, dashing onto Zusi’s pass and cutting into the box from the right wing before firing emphatically past Gonzalez to ignite joyous celebrations inside the stadium. The goal was Gerso’s team-leading seventh in MLS competition and his ninth in all competitions, while Zusi tabbed his fifth assist of the year and logged his first multi-assist game since May 29, 2015 — coincidentally a 4-0 thrashing of FC Dallas.
Sporting Kansas City will now hit the road for its final match before the September international break, traveling to face rivals Houston Dynamo next Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest.
2017 MLS Regular Season
Game 25 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 19,869 (100th straight sellout)
Weather: 86 degrees and sunny
|Sporting Kansas City (10-5-10, 40 points)||1||1||2|
|FC Dallas (9-6-8, 35 points)||0||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C), Jimmy Medranda; Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Benny Feilhaber (Latif Blessing 93+); Cristian Lobato (Gerso 68), Diego Rubio, Daniel Salloi (Erik Palmer-Brown 83)
Subs Not Used: Andrew Dykstra, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Seth Sinovic, James Musa
FC Dallas: Jesse Gonzalez; Hernan Grana, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Hedges (C), Maynor Figueroa; Michael Barrios (Coy Craft 79), Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Roland Lamah (Ryan Hollingshead 75); Cristian Colman (Tesho Akindele 65), Maximiliano Urruti
Subs Not Used: Chris Seitz, Atiba Harris, Javier Morales, Victor Ulloa
|Shots on Goal||7||2|
SKC -- Ilie (caution; unsporting behavior) 48
FCD -- Maynor Figueroa (caution; unsporting behavior) 80
SKC -- Diego Rubio 2 (Graham Zusi 4) 42
SKC -- Gerso 7 (Graham Zusi 5) 92+
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Assistant Referee: Peter Manikowski
Assistant Referee: Andrew Bigelow
Fourth Official: Mark Kadlecik
VAR: Robert Sigiba