KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Sporting Kansas City's league goal drought is over. So is the Colorado Rapids' unbeaten streak.
Graham Zusi scored in the 88th minute on Saturday night, lifting Sporting to a 2-1 victory over the Rapids and into a three-way share of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Benny Feilhaber also scored for Sporting (12-9-6), whose 42 points ties them with Montreal and New York atop the East. Kansas City broke a two-match streak of shutout losses, while Colorado (10-8-9) had its unbeaten streak snapped at nine by Zusi's late drive from the penalty area off an assist from late sub C.J. Sapong.
Feilhaber snapped Sporting's league scoreless streak at 213 minutes with a blast from distance in the 33rd minute, but substitute Edson Buddle equalized for the Rapids in the 77th to set up the frantic finish.
Dom Dwyer, making his first league start up top after a standout performance off the bench in CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday, set up Feilhaber's strike by hustling to win a 50-50 ball against the Rapids' Hendry Thomas. The ball popped to Feilhaber, who used the outside of his right foot to send a curling shot past Clint Irwin from 30 yards.
Colorado nearly equalized with a flurry of chances in the closing seconds of the first half, but couldn't get the ball past Jimmy Nielsen – or, in one case, under the crossbar.
In the 45th minute, Deshorn Brown beat the offside trap but had his shot deflected over the goal for a corner kick. Nielsen made a reaction save on Brown's header on the ensuing restart, igniting a pinball sequence inside the 6-yard box – during which Thomas smacked a header off the woodwork – before Gabriel Torres' shot finally went out for a goal kick.
The Rapids had another chance in the 63rd when Nielsen saved but couldn't control Martin Rivero's low shot from distance, but Aurelien Collin cleared the ball out of bounds before Vicente Sanchez could close in and put back the rebound.
But after coming on for Brown in the 70th minute, Buddle did what the rookie couldn't – put the ball in the back of the net. He tracked down a loose ball about 25 yards, and his shot took a deflection off center back Matt Besler and past a sprawling Nielsen.
Paulo Nagamura, who went 77 minutes in Tuesday's 2-0 CCL win over Honduran side CD Olimpia, turned in a full-90 night on Saturday in his first league start since spraining his ankle in a 2-2 draw at FC Dallas on June 22. Winger Kei Kamara returned after missing two matches with a sprained right ankle, coming on as a sub for Feilhaber in the 84th minute.
Both teams are back in action on Sept. 7, Sporting at home to Columbus and the Rapids away to the LA Galaxy.
SKC - Benny Feilhaber (Dominic Dwyer) 33'
COL - Edson Buddle 4 (unassisted) 77'
SKC - Graham Zusi (C.J. Sapong, Chance Myers) 88'
COL - Hendry Thomas (caution) 65'
SKC - Oriol Rossel (caution) 70'
COL - Drew Moor (caution) 91+
Colorado Rapids lineup: Clint Irwin, Marvell Wynne, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Chris Klute, Hendry Thomas, Nathan Sturgis (Martin Rivero 57), Dillon Powers, Vicente Sanchez (Atiba Harris 80), Deshorn Brown (Edson Buddle 70), Gabriel Torres.
Substitutes not used: Matt Pickens, Brenton Griffiths, Nick LaBrocca, German Mera
Sporting KC lineup: Jimmy Nielsen, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Benny Feilhaber (Kei Kamara 84), Paulo Nagamura, Oriol Rosell, Dominic Dwyer (Teal Bunbury 74), Soony Saad (C.J. Sapong 79), Graham Zusi
Substitutes not used: Erik Kronberg, Josh Gardner, Ike Opara, Claudio Bieler
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Aurelien Collin||The Frenchman was a stalwart in the Sporting backline, making things difficult for Colorado all night.|
|2||Edson Buddle||Without Buddle, the Rapids would have been shutout. He sparked the offense and his shot resulted in the club's lone goal.|
|3||Graham Zusi||Zusi came up clutch for Sporting, burying home the game-winner in the 88th to help Sporting keep pace in the East|