Sporting Kansas City kept their perfect start to the 2012 season intact and handed FC Dallas their first loss with a 2-1 win on Sunday at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, courtesy of Kei Kamara’s game-winning goal in the 88th minute. With the win, Sporting Kansas City moves to 3-0-0 this year and into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
FC Dallas struck first in the 25th minute on a free kick from Ricardo Villar, the visitors only shot on goal of the game, before Aurelien Collin equalized in first half stoppage time with the 700th goal in team history coming on a header from Graham Zusi’s set piece.
It was one of two assists on the night for the Sporting KC midfielder and gives him a League-high four on the season, including one in each of the club’s first three matches.
FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman made seven saves on the night, including a diving stop on Kamara’s penalty kick in the 50th minute, but Sporting KC broke through in the game’s closing minutes on a play started and finished by Kamara. Winning the ball back at midfield and receiving a pass from Julio Cesar in quick succession, Kamara sent a pass to Chance Myers on the right touchline that began a sequence of four consecutive one-touch passes and culminated with Kamara’s a first-time finish at the near post.
Myers combined with Zusi on a give-and-go and outran FC Dallas defender Hernan Pertuz to deliver a perfectly-placed cross for Kamara to hammer home from eight yards out and secure the full three points.
Sporting Kansas City’s high pressure created opportunities early and often, as C.J. Sapong was the recipient of a deflected pass in the FC Dallas end. His shot from the top of the penalty area forced Kevin Hartman to go low and to his right to make the first of several stops in the match.
FC Dallas came close in the ninth minute when Bryan Leyva settled a cross from Blas Perez and turned quickly in the area, sending his shot wide of net. Moments later on the opposite end, Kamara collected an errant clearance from Ugo Ihemelu and put his shot on frame only to see it smothered by Hartman.
The FC Dallas goalkeeper stayed busy with a pair of stops midway through the first half, first pushing away Zusi’s left-footed attempt in the 20th minute and then collecting Bobby Convey’s strike six minutes later.
But it was FC Dallas who struck for the game’s opening goal after being awarded a free kick when Perez went down just outside the area. Villar made no mistake on the set piece, arching his shot over the wall and inside the near post for his second goal of the season.
With four minutes of stoppage time following an extended delay during Villar’s first half injury, FC Dallas midfielder Daniel Hernandez was cautioned for a foul on Espinoza in the half’s final minute. Zusi delivered the free kick into the penalty box and Collin rose high to flick it past Hartman to put the teams level entering the half. The goal, Collin’s fourth in two MLS seasons, matched the latest first half strike in club history.
Sporting Kansas City used the momentum to their advantage, drawing a penalty kick in the 50th minute when Myers was tripped up by Ihemelu inside the penalty area. Kamara, who converted both of his penalty kicks in 2011, stepped to the spot and struck his shot low but Hartman dove to his right to push away the attempt.
It marked the club’s first unsuccessful penalty kick in their last 14 attempts dating back to 2007 and was the 14th career penalty save for the former KC goalkeeper. Kamara nearly found redemption on the ensuing corner kick, winning the header but pushing it just wide of the far post.
The back-and-forth action continued with FC Dallas nearly taking the lead in the 57th minute as Jair Benitez found space on the left flank and surged forward. He slipped a pass across the goalmouth for an onrushing Andrew Jacobson, who couldn’t connect from close range.
FC Dallas, who were the last team to defeat Sporting Kansas City at home in a regular season MLS match, threatened again in the 86th minute as Pertuz sent a shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Kamara recorded his second goal in as many games and 22nd of his KC career to give Sporting Kansas City its second 3-0-0 start in team history. Sporting becomes the only team in MLS with three wins through their first three games, earning the victory in their first of six straight matches against Western Conference opponents.