Sporting KC take on FC Dallas in an MLS soccer match in Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring a penalty kick during the game between Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas on April 30, 2022 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring a penalty kick during the game between Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas on April 30, 2022 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Special to the star

Trailing by a goal at halftime on Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting Kansas City had one of their best halves of the season, winning a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas.

“I just told the guys you have to come out in the second half and completely change your mentality,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said of his half-time speech.

For the first time in a long time, Sporting seemed to be the attacking aggressor. The combinations between Daniel Salloi and Logan Ndenbe came together, and a more inspired performance from Espinoza and Walter in midfield was a major boost.

“I think we had good attacking aggression, which is what we wanted to start the game with,” Vermes said. “We wanted to try and get the first goal and put ourselves in a very good position.”

That’s what they did. And part of that may have been down to a pregame chat between Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi. So what did the first say to the second?

“It’s time we stepped up,” Russell said. “It’s good to talk, (but) we know we have to reach those standards from last year and help us out of the situation we find ourselves in. Because no one is going to help us. It must come from us.

Sporting KC were likely hoping for a return of Gadi Kinda to help ignite a spark in attack, and the original timetable for his return had passed. As the club announced on Friday, Kinda is out for the year, and the composition of the roster as currently constructed will not change until this summer.

“We realize there are a lot of injuries,” Salloï said. “We can be creative attacking players who have to score goals and try to win the game. We have to step in with a few moments and I’m glad we were both able to score.

Sporting KC (2-6-2) kicked the scoring when Salloï was awarded a penalty because his legs were swept under him as he turned to shoot into the penalty area. Russell kicked the penalty past the Dallas keeper in the 22nd minute.

Dallas scored twice on incredible individual efforts to lead 2-1 at halftime. 19-year-old Argentine wonderkid Alan Velasco scored from a free-kick taken from a tight angle, and United States men’s national team forward Jesus Ferreira dribbled past Sporting’s backline and rolled one into the top corner.

While both goals featured incredible finishes, Vermes lamented some of the things that happened in the build-up to those goals.

“The first goal shouldn’t happen because we shouldn’t foul in the situation we faced,” Vermes said. “The second goal, not our whole line, but part of our line, is to step in when they shouldn’t. There’s no pressure on the ball and they run behind us, and then we don’t give a body to the player.

Sporting came off with a shot in the second half and appeared to be pushing for a goal anyway, but the home side received some unexpected help in that regard from FC Dallas substitute Brandon Servania.

Servania, who came on in the 60th minute, spent just seven minutes on the pitch. But in that short time, he managed to earn two yellow cards before being sent off.

Leading a man for 25 minutes, Sporting KC pushed the pace until Hungary winger Daniel Salloi equalized in the 77th minute.

With the game tied again, Dallas did what they could to stop the game. The visitors picked up several yellows which cost them time while Sporting couldn’t score a decisive goal.

Sporting KC next takes on defending MLS Cup champion NYCFC on the road on Saturday at 6 p.m.

This story was originally published April 30, 2022 9:46 p.m.

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