Daniel Salloi scored twice Wednesday night as Sporting Kansas City beat the visiting Colorado Rapids 2-1 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.
The outcome was a welcome development for the MLS home team after a 7-2 loss at Portland last weekend. It was also Sporting’s first league win since March 26.
“I think you’re always interested to see how your team is going to respond to all kinds of different situations,” Sporting manager Peter Vermes said. “I have more belief in them than they do, but that’s always the case.”
The response to that drubbing in Portland was exactly what Vermes had hoped to get out of them, and it was Showtime Salloi who got Sporting KC back on track.
“This is the reaction that you need to have because you can’t go into back-to-back losses and stuff like that, because that’s when you lose control of your team,” Salloi said. “I’m happy with what we did tonight because this is a big three points for us.”
Salloi started the party early after a quick restart from Uri Rosell, giving him the ball in space for a drive at the Rapids’ backline. His dribbling move turned around Lalas Abubakar, allowing Salloi to rip home his first goal of the match.
Colorado equalized through an odd sequence in front of Tim Melia’s Sporting KC goal, as Lucas Esteves put home a rebound between a pair of Sporting defenders.
The match brought an unwelcome development on the injury front, as Sporting’s Nikola Vujnovic went down untouched in the 34th minute, clutching the back of his ankle. He was subbed off immediately for Marinos Tzionis.
Salloi’s goal in the 50th minute gave Sporting the lead for good. Kortne Ford’s excellent pass to Salloi sent him free on goal. While Salloi ran to the corner to celebrate, Ford, in his first season with KC after beginning his season with the Rapids, sprinted over to the Sporting sideline and celebrated with Vermes.
“One of the big reasons that Colorado didn’t believe in me was my ability to play out of the back with the ball at my feet,” Ford said. “That’s one of the things that Peter believed in me from day one.
“It was nice to go over there and show my appreciation and celebrate a really good goal.”
A late fracas erupted when Salloi tried to delay a restart; the resulting cards meant both teams ended the match with nine players on the field. Salloi and Andreu Fontas were sent off — Salloi for the challenge, and Fontas for putting his hands around Diego Rubio’s neck in the chaos that followed. Esteves was sent off for barging into Salloi, and Colorado’s Aaron Trusty had been sent off a few minutes earlier.
But Salloi had already sealed the match’s outcome, the Hungarian finally enjoying the sort of breakout game that fans had become so accustomed to seeing during his 2021 MVP finalist campaign.
“He’s been playing well all season,” Vermes said. “He just hasn’t had the breaks in the games, and I think at times we haven’t been able to find him on some of the movements he makes off the ball.”
But it wasn’t just Salloi’s attacking contributions that had Sporting captain Johnny Russell fired up after the match.
“I thought he was brilliant tonight,” Russell said of his teammate. “Take away the goals, his all-around performance, his work rate for us, I thought it was brilliant.”
Sporting KC next plays at the San Jose Earthquakes at 6:30 p.m. Central Time on Sunday.