Sporting Kansas City missed an opportunity to go atop the Western Conference standings on Saturday evening when it lost 2-1 to FC Dallas at Children’s Mercy Park.
The chance emerged with an equally surprising 1-0 loss for the Seattle Sounders earlier in the day. But Kansas City was unable to capitalize.
Sporting KC had not lost a single game at Children’s Mercy Park all season. And Dallas hadn’t picked up a single point on the road in seven attempts in 2021.
Yet it took just three minutes for Dallas to get on the board off the boot of Paxton Pomykal from 25-yards out.
And Jesus Ferreira doubled the visitors’ lead early in the second half.
Dallas had scored just two goals on the road in 2021 before its pair of strikes on Saturday against Sporting KC.
Johnny Russell pulled one back for KC in the 84th minute, but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback.
“I think you’ve got to give Dallas credit,” Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes said. “I think that they played with somewhat urgency in the game. They were clean and crisp in their build-up.”
Sporting’s Gadi Kinda also seemed to have scored in the 74th minute, but his goal was pulled back for offside. The moment earmarked a frustrating game for Sporting Kansas City, in terms of both woes on offense and a lack of consistent calls from referee Alex Chilowicz.
In the end, Dallas looked and played like a team that was accustomed to winning on the road, while Kansas City seemed to have a hangover from its 3-1 road win over Seattle last weekend.
The visitors put Kansas City under immediate pressure high up the pitch, making life difficult for KC to get out of its own half. The opening goal came from a turnover forced by pressuring Russell down the right wing.
The tackle was quickly turned back up the field to Ryan Hollingshead, who found an unmarked Pomykal inside. Kansas City’s center-back partnership of Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Andreu Fontas wasn’t quick enough to close down Pomykal, and his shot from distance rustled into the bottom left corner.
“I don’t think we expected the game to be as fast as it was, for some reason, I don’t know why,” Vermes said. “I have no complaints about our guys other than we’ve just got to be ready for the start of the game. That was it.”
The goal wasn’t Dallas’ only opportunity of the half as it continued to put KC’s defense under pressure by attacking in numbers.
The fast-paced nature of the game kept Kansas City from settling down with possession for the opening 30 minutes.
Anytime Dallas attacked with numbers, the Kansas City defense struggled to find its mark, allowing a handful of decent opportunities.
A couple of good saves from KC goalkeeper Tim Melia kept Kansas City in the game in the first half, but just six minutes into the second half another Dallas quick break split Kansas City open again.
Once again, Dallas players found themselves open between the gaps, and Jesus Ferreira was afforded enough time to fire the ball into Melia’s top corner from 20-yards out.
“Yes, maybe we should stay closer and we should be closer to them to not allow them to shoot,” Fontas said. “Maybe if I go closer, then they play it behind my back. Soccer is a game of decisions and maybe today we didn’t take the best ones.”
Kansas City did have chances of its own, especially once falling 2-0 down.
The peak came in the final minutes of the game when Russell heading one home in the 84th minute.
But the home side will feel hard done by, most notably by Kinda’s disallowed goal 10 minutes prior to Russell’s goal.
A mad scramble in the box allowed Kinda to scramble home the ball, setting off fireworks as the Vengaboys’ ‘We Like to Party’ blared around the stadium. But the mood quickly turned sour when the assistant referee waved for an offside in the build-up to the play.
Daniel Salloi was also body checked from behind on a potential rebound into an open goal in the 60th minute, but Chilowicz waved away KC’s protests.
Vermes opted to stay away from discussing the referee’s decisions, unlike his rant last week against San Jose. This time it was Russell who laid into the officials when talking to Bally Sports’ Aly Trost following the game.
“The standard of officiating is actually starting to get beyond a joke,” Russell said. “I don’t want that to come across as me looking for excuses; we should have won the game, it’s our fault we didn’t. But something has to be done. That’s pathetic. That’s not the right way to play the game.”
Saturday night’s loss was the first game of seven in a three-week span for Kansas City as it enters the thick of the season.