Benny Feilhaber had a goal and an assist as Sporting Kansas City scored two goals just before halftime to beat FC Dallas 2-0 in front of 18,927 fans at Children's Mercy Park on Sunday. With the win, Sporting Kansas City moved to (win-loss-draw) 4-4-1 at home and 6-8-3 overall, good for fourth place in the Western Conference. Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes will applaud his side's defensive steel, and will be even more pleased that his second-choice defense limited a dangerous FC Dallas offense in the second half. With the loss, FC Dallas moved to 8-5-4 and remain second in the Western Conference. FC Dallas manager Oscar Pareja will feel aggrieved that his club was wrongfully denied a goal in the 15th goal, and will be disappointed that his side was so wasteful in front of Sporting Kansas City's goal on Sunday.
FC Dallas' inability to take chances costs them the game
The biggest talking point of Sunday's game was the controversial "no-goal" call in the 15th minute. An FC Dallas long ball rolled to Sporting center back Lawrence Olum, who rolled the ball back to goalkeeper Tim Melia. But Melia was out of position, and Olum's back pass instead rolled past Melia and towards his own goal. Melia ran back towards his goal and slid across the goal line to kick the ball to an SKC teammate. In real time, it looked like Melia had saved a potential own-goal, but replays showed that the ball clearly rolled across the goal line before Melia could slide it to safety. If center referee Jorge Gonzalez or either of the two assistant referees had seen the ball cross the goal line, FC Dallas would have taken the 1-0 lead, and the game may have turned out differently.
Instead, neither of the three referees saw the ball roll into the SKC net, and the game remained 0-0. Even though FC Dallas were wrongfully denied a goal, they still had plenty of opportunities to take the lead in the first half. A minute after the controversial "no-goal" call, midfielder Fabian Castillo broke away from the SKC defense and dribbled towards goalkeeper Melia. Instead of shooting at Melia, Castillo laid the ball off to right midfielder Michael Barrios, whose shot was saved by the SKC 'keeper. Castillo controlled the rebound and fired it home, but the far-side assistant referee's flag was already raised for offside, negating the goal and keeping the score at 0-0.
SKC's first scoring chance fell to central midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who turned past FCD defensive midfielder Kellyn Acosta before firing just wide right of FCD goalkeeper Chris Seitz's goal in the 27th minute. In the 29th minute, a long Acosta free kick fell to FCD right back Atiba Harris, who headed the ball back across goal. FCD center back Matt Hedges got on the end of Harris' headed pass but fired his close-range shot off the crossbar. FCD's best scoring chance of the game came in the 30th minute. A clever Barrios touch put Castillo through on goal, and this time, he elected to shoot instead of pass to a teammate. His shot from the center of the SKC 18-yard-box beat goalkeeper Melia but clanged off the right post and rebounded back into Melia's grateful arms.
SKC came to life after Castillo's miss and created a fantastic scoring chance in the 41st minute. Left midfielder Connor Hallisey crossed the ball to right midfielder Jacob Peterson, who only had goalkeeper Seitz to beat. But the FC Dallas netminder came up huge, kick-saving Peterson's shot. The rebound appeared to hit off of FCD center back Walker Zimmerman's hand, but center referee Gonzalez didn't see the handball in the FCD box, and Peterson shot wide just seconds after his first shot was saved.
SKC took a barely-deserved lead in the 43rd minute. After SKC forward Dominic Dwyer won a free kick just outside of FCD's 18-yard-box, midfielder Benny Feilhaber swung a pinpoint free kick into the box. Center back Lawrence Olum got free of FC Dallas right back Harris and flicked Feilhaber's free kick past goalkeeper Seitz.
FC Dallas seemed stunned after falling behind, and their defense self-destructed just before half-time. Right back Harris was again the culprit, clipping Feilhaber inside his own penalty box. Referee Gonzalez pointed to the penalty spot, and Feilhaber dusted himself off to convert the spot-kick, coolly sending Seitz the wrong way and giving SKC a shock 2-0 lead just before the half-time whistle.
In the second half, SKC gave FC Dallas plenty of time on the ball but forced FC Dallas to take pot-shots from outside SKC's box. FC Dallas' best scoring chances in the second half came in the 69th minute, when center back Hedges laid out but couldn't get his head on a curling Mauro Diaz free kick, and in the 89th minute when Dallas' other center back Walker Zimmerman headed another terrific Diaz pass just wide of goal. Hedges had FCD's last chance of the match, but his left-footed shot from inside SKC's 18-yard-box went narrowly wide of Melia's goal. When the final whistle sounded, a fatigued Sporting Kansas City team celebrated a morale-boosting three points in front of their fans, while FC Dallas sulked off the field, exhausted after coming away with nothing on a boiling afternoon in Kansas City.
Men of the match
Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Medranda
SKC left back Jimmy Medranda was tasked with guarding two of the best wide midfielders in the league in Fabian Castillo and Michael Barrios on Sunday. He did his job with aplomb, racking up eight recovery tackles, eight open-field tackles, four interceptions, and one clearance. The only knock on Medranda was that he didn't complete many passes to his teammates, but that was because he was blasting balls upfield to clear them to safety. His no-nonsense approach and rugged tackling ability have made him a fan-favorite at SKC, and he is quickly becoming one of the best left backs in Major League Soccer. He is only 22 years old, and it is scary to think just how good he can be if he can continue to mature under manager Peter Vermes and perform as well as he did on Sunday. Feilhaber may have finished with a goal and an assist, but it was Medranda who limited Barrios' influence and helped shut down a persistent FC Dallas attack.
FC Dallas: Matt Hedges
FC Dallas is a better, more organized team with center back Matt Hedges in the lineup, and although his team conceded two goals on Sunday, the 24-year-old was not at fault for either goal. Hedges finished with four clearances, six recovery tackles, and three interceptions, and he was also a menace on offense, shooting the ball off of the crossbar in the first half and striking the ball narrowly wide of Melia's right post deep into second-half stoppage time. Hedges and Zimmerman form a formidable duo at the center of FCD's defense, and if both can remain healthy for the rest of the season, FC Dallas can definitely compete with the best teams in MLS over the course of the season.
What's next for both teams
Sporting Kansas City travels to Stade Saputo to take on the Montreal Impact next Saturday, June 25th at 4:30 PM PT. The Impact tied the Columbus Crew 0-0 this weekend and remain third in the Eastern Conference. The Impact has drawn five of their last eight games, and if SKC can go on the road and secure at least a point, that would be a good result for Peter Vermes' side.
FC Dallas will fly back to Frisco, Texas to host Real Salt Lake at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, June 25th at 5:00 PM PT. Real Salt Lake tied 2-2 with the Portland Timbers on Saturday and are currently ranked third in the Western Conference, four points behind FC Dallas. FC Dallas will surely be seething after losing a winnable match against SKC, and given both teams possess high-powered offenses, Saturday's match could be an entertaining, high-scoring affair.