US Bank Match Recap: Khiry Shelton's equalizer helps first-place Sporting to 1-1 home draw against FC Dallas

Sporting Kansas City (5-2-2, 17 points) came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw for the second straight game, sharing the spoils with FC Dallas (2-1-4, 10 points) on Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park to stay atop the Western Conference standings.

Dallas landed the first punch on an early goal from Franco Jara, but center forward Khiry Shelton conjured an equalizer on the stroke of halftime to match an MLS career-high with his fourth goal of the season. Sporting outshot their opponents 22-5 over the course of the evening, but the visitors finished with 14 blocks—tied for the most in an MLS game since the dawn of the Opta era in 2010—to emerge with a point.

A youthful Sporting Kansas City lineup included five changes from Saturday’s 1-1 draw at the Colorado Rapids. Forward Alan Pulido and defenders Winston Reid and Graham Zusi were rested, Roger Espinoza missed out through injury and Gadi Kinda served a red card suspension. For the first time in club history, Manager Peter Vermes deployed an all-Homegrown midfield of 18-year-old Gianluca Busio, 19-year-old Cameron Duke and 22-year-old Felipe Hernandez, while Luis Martins and Roberto Puncec slotted into defense and winger Johnny Russell donned the captain’s armband. Wednesday notably marked the second match ever to feature four Homegrown starters for Sporting, with right back Jaylin Lindsey joining the midfield three to round out the quartet.

Jara’s first MLS goal vaulted the visitors ahead in the ninth minute. Dallas midfielder Bryan Acosta created a turnover on the edge of Sporting’s own penalty area and the ball rolled kindly to the Argentine striker, who chipped a shot over goalkeeper Tim Melia to open his scoring account after arriving from Mexican side Pachuca in July.

Two major chances would fall Sporting’s way just shy of the 20-minute mark. Luis Martins advanced into the attacking third and picked out Shelton, who swiveled near the penalty spot and hammered a left-footed strike over the bar. Shortly thereafter, Gerso did wonderfully to keep possession along the left endline, shrug off a defender and pull it back for Russell, but his blistering effort also sailed high from 12 yards.

Shelton again went agonizingly close to leveling terms in the 29th minute, outleaping Dallas defender Matt Hedges to redirect an acrobatic Russell cross from the right flank, only to see his header skip inches wide of goalkeeper Jimmy Mauer’s righthand post.

In a notable plot twist, Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez was forced into a pair of first-half substitutions. Eighteen-year-old Tanner Tessman replaced the injured Acosta in the 19th minute and a hobbled Mauer made way for MLS debutant Kyle Zobeck on the cusp of intermission.

A wonderfully worked attack restored parity three minutes into first-half stoppage time. Busio won possession at midfield and Hernandez spread the ball left to Gerso, who squeezed a clever pass through to Shelton. The striker took a smooth touch and finished lethally with the outside of his right boot past a helpless Zobeck. Shelton moved into a tie for the team lead with his fourth goal of the campaign, while Hernandez tallied his first assist at the MLS level.

Russell was unfortunate not to put his name on the scoresheet in the 52nd minute. Neat interplay between Martins and Gerso set the latter free along the endline, and although Russell managed to get a touch to the ensuing cross inside the six-yard area, Dallas defender John Nelson did enough to prevent the Scottish international from striking the ball cleanly as Zobeck pounced to extinguish the danger.

Sporting continued to threaten down the left wing, and Russell’s luck eluded him once more in the 68th minute when his diving header off Martins’ teasing delivery flashed marginally wide of the post. The 30-year-old remained lively, however, and his driven cross in the 84th minute nearly resulted in a goal as Hernandez and Zusi, a second-half substitute, both had bites at the apple but saw their shots blocked in a crowded box.

The game’s final scoring opportunity fell to Daniel Salloi, who on the hour mark became the fifth Sporting KC Academy product to take the field. Deep into second-half stoppage time, the Hungary-born forward raced onto Zusi’s well-weighted through ball and prompted Zobeck to make an outstretched save with a low shot that was destined for the far left corner.

Sporting’s busy stretch will continue Saturday when the club takes the field for the fifth time in 16 days, visiting rivals Houston Dynamo in a 7 p.m. CT kickoff at BBVA Stadium. Vermes’ side previously hosted Houston on March 7 and Aug. 25, prevailing 4-0 in the 2020 home opener before suffering a 5-2 defeat Saturday’s contest will air live on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO and Sports Radio 810 WHB.

2020 MLS Regular Season
Match 9 of 23

Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 81 degrees and mostly sunny

Score 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (5-2-2, 17 points) 1 0 1
FC Dallas (2-1-4, 10 points) 1 0 1

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jaylin Lindsey, Graham Smith (Matt Besler 46'), Roberto Puncec, Luis Martins; Gianluca Busio, Felipe Hernandez (Erik Hurtado 90+3'), Cam Duke (Graham Zusi 57'); Johnny Russell (C), Khiry Shelton, Gerso Fernandes (Daniel Salloi 57')
Subs Not Used: Richard Sanchez, Amadou Dia, Andreu Fontas, Wan Kuzain

FC Dallas: Jimmy Mauer (Kyle Zobeck 42'); Ryan Hollingshead, Matt Hedges (Bressan 46'), Reto Ziegler (C), John Nelson; Thiago Santos, Bryan Acosta (Tanner Tessman 19'), Brandon Servania (Santiago Mosquera 64'); Michael Barrios, Franco Jara, Jesus Ferreira (Bryan Reynolds 64')
Subs Not Used: Edwin Cerillo, Ricaurte Velez, Zdenek Ondrasek, Ricardo Pepi

Scoring Summary:
DAL -- Franco Jara 1 (Bryan Acosta 1) 9'
SKC -- Khiry Shelton 4 (Gerso Fernandes 2, Felipe Hernandez 1) 45+3'

Misconduct Summary:
DAL -- Brandon Servania (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 31'
DAL -- Michael Barrios (yellow card; delaying a restart) 54'
DAL -- Thiago Santos (yellow card; dissent) 84'

Shots 22 5
Shots on Goal 3 5
Saves 4 2
Fouls 14 11
Offsides 0 2
Corner Kicks 7 5

Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referee: Kyle Atkins
Assistant Referee: Brian Poeschel
Fourth Official: Jon Freemon
VAR: Younes Marrakchi
AVAR: Ian McKay