Three unanswered second-half goals from Sporting KC secured the home win for the Western Conference leaders over the Houston Dynamo. The home win is SKC’s first over the Orange since 2011.
The game was minutes from ending as a draw before an 88th-minute strike gave the home side the lead for good.
“The opportunities were created because of our mentality to go forward, our mentality to get in the box, and our ability to finish and play through teams if we want to,” Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes said. “But it was a mentality, it was an attitude, and it was an aggressive mindset, and that was the difference between the two halves and the difference in the game.”
Two of Kansas City’s three goals came from substitutes Diego Rubio and Khiry Shelton, making them the eight and ninth goals scored by SKC substitutes across all competitions.
“I say this all the time, that our culture is very strong, and I love the fact that the mentality of the guys is directly aligned with the culture of the club,” Vermes said on bringing Rubio and Shelton off the bench. “Because they understand that they are going to get their opportunity.”
But before Sporting KC (9-2-5, 32 points) could make their comeback, SKC had to contend with an Orange side that came ready to play.
The Orange jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the second minute and silencing the crowd. Ike Opara lost the ball 30 yards from goal and the ball fell to an opportunistic Tomas Martinez who one-timed a pass to Mauro Manotas. The Colombian striker got the ball shot it to the bottom left corner.
The Dynamo (6-6-3, 21 points) had multiple opportunities to add to their lead but only managed a second goal minutes before the first half whistle.
Sporting KC turned the ball over near midfield and the Dynamo hit them on the counter that ended with Beasley getting a 1v1 opportunity against SKC ‘keeper Tim Melia, but instead of shooting, the veteran defender slipped a pass to Mauro Manotas for the easy tap-in.
But in the second half, the roles were reversed.
“Mauro was good. Mauro, Albert, and Romell – we were dangerous,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “We were very good. We should have scored more goals. We scored two goals. We created more. We just needed to close the game and we didn’t do it.”
Sporting KC came out firing on all cylinders while the Dynamo looked like a shadow of the team that took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
In the 59th minute, Dániel Sallói got a hold of a rebound after a Joe Willis save and cleanly put it in the back of the net for the SKC’s first of the night.
Sallói — a Sporting KC Academy product — was far from done.
The forward slipped a pass to substitute Rubio who sent his shot to the upper 90 to bring the game level in the 85th minute. A minute later Sporting KC would go up a man when Dynamo midfielder Eric Alexander was shown his second yellow of the game and Kansas City would take advantage.
Sallióli, the clear man of the match, got the ball 20 yards from goal and sprinted towards goal. The forward sent a low cross across the face of goal where Shelton one-timed a shot to the back of the net to complete the comeback and send the crowd into a frenzy.
On Sallióli, Vermes said the Hungarian has had a solid progression since he was in the Sporting academy and praised the 21-year-old’s attitude going into each game.
Vermes wasn’t the only on to praise Sallióli on his man of the match performance.
“He’s growing. He’s getting better every game. Even in the first half, he was the only one who tried to do something different, who was pressing the two centerbacks of Houston,” Sporting KC midfielder Illie Sánchez said. “I’m happy for him. We know about his quality. He’s doing it and he’s playing really well, [and] helping the team.”
Sporting KC improves to an impressive 6-1-2 record at home while the Dynamo will lament the missed opportunity to nab an important road win against their conference rivals.