Sporting Kansas City secured a 2-0 win at Houston Dynamo on Friday night, despite playing with ten men for over an hour.
Soony Saad and Dom Dwyer fired the goals as the Wizards achieved their first win in six and their hosts slipped to a fourth consecutive loss.
Toni Dovale was shown a 20th-minute red card in the teams’ last fixture before Major League Soccer takes a three-week break for the World Cup.
Despite disappointing recent form, both sides remain on course for the play-offs where they have met in each of the previous three campaigns. A Dwyer goal eliminated Houston last year as Sporting marched to the title.
And it was the champions who started the brighter here, with Alex Martinez – an early substitute for the injured Paulo Nagamura – firing into the side-netting after running in behind the home defence.
Kansas City top-scorer Dwyer had his first chance in the 14th minute, but a heavy touch cost him the opportunity to get a shot away when bearing down on goal.
The visitors were dealt a blow when Dovale was dismissed. The fourth official spotted an off-the-ball elbow from the Spaniard on Alex Lopez, who was booked for his involvement in the clash.
The Honduran immediately looked to capitalise on the Dynamo’s one-man advantage, forcing Eric Kronberg into a flying save with a curling effort from 25 yards.
But Sporting continued to come forward with Martinez particularly prominent, and Dwyer must have thought he’d scored four minutes before the interval. Having nodded the ball beyond goalkeeper Tyler Deric, the Englishman was halted by a magnificent last-ditch challenge from Servando Carrasco just inches from the goal-line.
The ten men did take the lead on the stroke of half-time though, after good work from Benny Feilhaber. The United States international won possession in a dangerous area with a firm tackle on Eric Brunner, and Saad pounced to clinically place the ball past Deric.
With the Wizards’ players dropping like flies and Houston unable to create a clear-cut opening, the second period began in scrappy fashion.
Still, Kansas City remained a threat and in the 69th minute they were awarded a penalty.
Seth Sinovic’s long-range blockbuster saw the goalkeeper make a fantastic stop, and from the resulting corner Duric failed to gather and the ball bounced up off the arm of AJ Cochran.
Dwyer stepped up to coolly tuck away the spot-kick and draw level with Bradley Wright-Phillips at the top of the MLS scoring charts.
Finding themselves in desperate need of a goal, Dynamo began to push forward but could still only muster shots from distance and high balls into the area.
Houston went close in a stoppage-time goal-mouth scramble, but Kronberg and his defence survived.
Without the industry of World Cup-bound winger Brad Davis, the Orange Crush couldn’t break through a sturdy Sporting back-line and the visitors held on for an incredible three points against all odds.
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