Jul 28, 2018; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia (29) makes a save during the first half against FC Dallas midfielder Michael Barrios (21) at Children's Mercy Park. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY — Just a few weeks after being at the top of the Supporters Shield standings, Sporting Kansas City continued its downhill slide Saturday. A 3-2 loss to FC Dallas at home was the latest in Kansas City’s six-match winless streak.
A Michael Barrios hat trick was the difference in a match where Kansas City was out of sorts defensively.
“We can’t give up goals like that,” Sporting manager Peter Vermes said. “They were easy goals. They were too easy. You can’t give up three goals in any game, let alone home, like that. … Those chances tonight honestly were nothing. We gave up three goals that came out of absolutely nothing. We had three soft goals, and that’s the difference in the game.”
Sporting did not put a shot on frame the entire first half. Still, it was the other side of the field that had the costliest struggles.
Dallas’s first-half goal was at least partially a result of a back-line mistake from Kansas City. In the 23rd minute, Dallas sent a long ball over the top, and Sporting defender Ike Opara found himself in a foot race with Michael Barrios. In the scramble of the one-on-one, Opara got his head under the ball, but only managed to tip it forward. Sporting keeper Tim Melia raced off his line to help, but Barrios found a split-second advantage and chipped the ball right over Melia and into the net.
“The first one, I lose the ball in the lights, and there’s nothing really you can do,” Opara said. “It’s frustrating because it feels like every little thing that can go wrong is going wrong. Lose the ball in the lights; they capitalized. Miss a clearance; they capitalized.”
Melia evacuating his line led to Dallas’s second goal, too. Dallas played another long ball, and Barrios was again on the other end. With the ball puttering between the two, Melia raced yards away from his goal, but Barrios was still closing in. Barrios sent his shot between Melia’s legs, and Dallas took a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute.
Barrios tacked on the cap to his hat trick in the 74th minute after navigating chaos in the box and ripping a bullet into the top corner.
Sporting did see a couple of flashes of positivity, one via the feet of Gerso Fernandes. He dribbled around two defenders in the 50th minute, expertly maneuvering around and faking out Anton Nedyalkov. His effort turned into a shot that curled perfectly inside the post, putting Sporting on the board for the first time.
Daniel Salloi added another for Kansas City in stoppage time, narrowing the margin of loss. Off a corner kick from Graham Zusi, Jaylin Lindsey headed it to the near side onto Opara’s foot. Opara tipped it back into Salloi, who finished his chance just off the goal line.
Still, it wasn’t enough to make up for the defensive lapses.
“Look, we scored two goals tonight; I know we scored one late, but it’s not a matter of scoring goals,” Vermes said. “It’s a matter of keeping the ball out of the back of the net, and we gave them – jeez, I mean, we knew exactly what they were going to come in here and do. And at the end, that’s what the game wound up being.”