Sporting Kansas City bounced back from their first defeat since May with a 4-1 home victory against Toronto FC on Saturday night.
Dom Dwyer hadn’t netted in his previous five games, but added two penalties to bring his tally against Canadian clubs to double-figures for the year. Gilberto pulled a goal back, but the Major League Soccer champions sealed the win through Soony Saad’s stunner and CJ Sapong’s tap-in.
The result allowed the Wizards to retain their boast as the best side in the East, while keeping pace with interconference rivals Real Salt Lake.
Though unable to prevent a 2-1 reverse, Dominic Oduro had posted a magnificent performance in the teams’ last meeting and he quickly set about dissecting the home defence with some typically penetrative runs. However, Sporting were soon on the attack.
When Joe Bendik scuffed his clearance into the midfield, Dwyer was almost the beneficiary, but for a sublime challenge from Justin Morrow. From the following corner, the Ontarians were to be punished more severely.
While Morrow is a natural full-back, winger Jackson looked less comfortable on the opposite flank and rashly dived in on Benny Feilhaber inside the penalty area. Referee Drew Fischer showed no hesitance in pointing to the spot, permitting Dwyer to lash into the roof of the net.
Graham Zusi then swung over a cross for Aurelien Collin, who found Bendik blocking his path, as Kansas City stamped their dominance on the match. Feilhaber, the division’s reigning Player of the Month, had been omitted from the United States’ World Cup squad, but he was proving his credentials here with a masterclass in passing against combatant Michael Bradley.
For all of the 29-year-old’s impressive play though, it was a deflection off the referee that presented Dwyer with the next opportunity. Doneil Henry lunged at the Englishman, who picked himself up to convert again from 12 yards – his 16th of the campaign.
However, with the interval approaching, Toronto launched an assault on Jon Kempin’s goal, and after Bradley’s free-kick had tested the young goalkeeper, they were to reduce the deficit to one. The assist predictably came from Oduro, with his clever through-ball flicked over the line in true Samba style by Brazilian Gilberto.
Zusi looked to create the first chance of the second period as he raced beyond the visiting backline but saw his centre ricochet inches wide of the target.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Gilberto should have added a second. Skipping away from the attentions of compatriot Igor Juliao, the ex-Internacional forward had only Kempin to beat, but fired straight at the academy graduate.
The goal of the game was to follow, though. Zusi’s corner was only half cleared, and Saad cushioned the ball with his in-step before unleashing a powerful, clean strike on the bounce that flew past a helpless Bendik inside the near post.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Reds weren’t conceding the tie yet, however. Jackson’s glorious run took him past half-a-dozen Wizards players, including the goalkeeper, but the nutmegged Collin recovered to hack away from danger.
Reacting to their guests’ riposte, Sporting confirmed the outcome with Sapong’s input. Another Zusi delivery was flicked on by Saad, across the box to where the substitute was waiting unguarded to prod home.
That touch concluded the scoring, but Saad and Seth Sinovic both drilled narrowly wide as the hosts motored to the final whistle.