Sporting KC settles for tie with Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS — Sporting Kansas City saw a chance to gain three points on Vancouver disappear as a late goal by Minnesota United resulted in a 1-1 draw in TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
Sporting missed a chance to clinch a spot in the MLS playoffs for the seventh straight season.
With Vancouver's 3-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls, Sporting KC (12-7-12, 48 points) could have pulled to within one point of the Whitecaps at the top of the Western Conference table. Sporting KC now stands three points back with a game in hand.
Diego Rubio put Sporting KC up 1-0 in the first half. Ilie Sanchez controlled the ball just outside the 18-yard line. He slipped a pass into Latif Blessing, who redirected it to Rubio. Rubio spun his defender and fired it past Minnesota goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Minnesota (10-16-6, 36 points) evened the match in the 84th minute. Abu Danladi crossed the ball into the box, where it was headed in by Brent Kallman from short-range.
Shuttleworth saved the draw in the fourth minute of stoppage time when he stopped Roger Espinoza's header from five feet away. The seven minutes of stoppage time saw frenzied action in the Minnesota end, but Sporting KC could not convert.
While Sporting KC put itself in great position to claim one of the top two spots in the Western Conference, of much bigger concern for the team is the fact that goalkeeper Tim Melia had to leave the match in the 59th minute with an apparent hamstring injury. He was replaced by Andrew Dykstra. Melia had played every minute this season in all competitions.
Both clubs were playing short-handed.
Sporting was without three key players as Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber are all with the U.S. men's national team in World Cup qualifying.
Minnesota was without regular starters Molino (Trinidad & Tobago) and Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica), who join Michael Boxall (New Zealand), Johan Venegas (Costa Rica) and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica) for World Cup qualifiers or friendlies abroad.
Sporting KC has two matches next week against Houston—one in each city—with their final match at Real Salt Lake.
The Loons finished 7-6-4 at home this season and were eliminated from playoff consideration in their first year of MLS competition.