By TATE STEINLAGE
Sometimes even a positive result can surprise you.
Sporting Kansas City might not affirm that notion, but after surviving an early red card and two injuries — to top the Houston Dynamo 2-0 Friday — there’s really no other way to put it.
Soony Saad opened his 2014 scoring account with the gaming-winning goal, while fellow forward Dom Dwyer added insurance with his 11th on the season to help the visitors earn their first victory in six matches.
“To be able to play the way that we did and score two goals, own the game the way we did, and get a shut out — incredible,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said after the match. “(That was) an incredible performance. That was probably the best performance we’ve ever had other than the championships we’ve won.”
The outlook wasn’t as positive early on for Sporting KC. Midfielder and interim captain Paulo Nagamura was forced to come off with a concussion five minutes into the match after colliding with Houston’s Will Bruin. Then in the 21st minute, a red card was shown to forward Toni Dovale for a high elbow thrown at Alexander Lopez.
Sporting KC would rebound from the grim start and score a goal in the 45th minute, but at the cost of another player. Following a Houston turnover and a pass to Saad to set up the opening goal, midfielder Benny Feilhaber was clipped down and would be subbed off at halftime with what team officials say is a separated left shoulder.
Houston would take advantage of Vermes using all three substitutions by halftime and bring on two fresh bodies to aide in possession and shots. But despite the advantage in those categories, it was the visitors who were able to execute at the right moments. The pressure kept coming and in the 69th minute it paid off with a penalty call following a Dynamo handball in the box, which would be converted a minute later by Dwyer.
Houston made things interesting with two or three sequences in the remaining 20 minutes, but it was not enough, as Sporting KC gained a crucial three points with the three-week World Cup break ahead of them.
“It’s always a good thing,” Vermes said. “This group of guys, they deserve three points. They deserved three points here in the last too many games we’ve played. They’ve played well. Even in D.C. and at home against the other two teams, they really have played well and they deserve three points. I’m hoping this is a good confidence builder for them because they deserve it. Their commitment and the way they play is excellent.”
Sporting KC improve to 6-5-4. Their next match will come during the break in U.S. Open Cup play on June 18th. The Houston Dynamo fall to 5-9-2. They’ll also return to action during the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup on June 11th.