Courtesy of Sporting Kansas City
Daniel Salloi scored the latest game-tying goal in Sporting Kansas City’s regular season history on Wednesday night, striking in the 94th minute to rescue a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes in a simmering encounter at Children’s Mercy Park.
San Jose surged ahead against the run of play in the 53rd minute when Brazilian defender Nathan nodded home his maiden MLS goal. However, a relentless wave of late Sporting pressure was rewarded deep into second-half stoppage time as Salloi—making his 100th regular season appearance—cleaned up a rebound after Johnny Russell’s free kick was touched onto the post by San Jose defender J.T. Marcinkowski.
Wednesday’s stalemate saw Sporting push their regular season home unbeaten run to 11 games dating back to last October, while San Jose (3-7-4, 13 points) failed to win for the ninth straight match. Salloi’s late leveler was his eighth goal of the 2021 campaign, third most in MLS, and extended Sporting’s club-record home scoring streak to 22 regular season matches.
The hard-earned draw lifts Sporting within two points of Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders FC (8-1-5, 29 points) ahead of Sunday’s colossal showdown between the two clubs at Lumen Field in Seattle. The highly anticipated matchup is slated for 8 p.m. CT with live coverage on Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest, BallySports.com, the Bally Sports app, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.
With a 17-day break in the rearview mirror, Sporting deployed a reshuffled lineup that included five changes from a 2-0 road win over the LA Galaxy on the Fourth of July. Center forward Wilson Harris earned his first career MLS start, fellow Sporting KC Academy product Cam Duke landed his first start of the season, midfielders Gadi Kinda and Remi Walter returned to the fray after overcoming injuries, and center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin was back at full fitness for his first start since April 23. With Manager Peter Vermes absent due to health and safety protocols, assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin provided leadership on the Sporting sideline.
Duke was active and involved over the course of the night, covering ground industriously and igniting his team’s first chance of the game in the 11th minute. The 20-year-old marauded down the right sideline and squared the ball to Russell, who pinged a clever through ball into the path of Harris. The 21-year-old striker put his shot on target from the right side of the box, but San Jose goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski was equal to the task.
Sporting leveraged the right flank once more in the 18th minute when Graham Zusi clipped a delightful ball over the top for Salloi, whose shot from a tight angle failed to beat Marcinkowski. A one-sided first half continued to unfold in the hosts’ favor and Harris nearly opened his MLS scoring account in glorious fashion six minutes before intermission. After skipping past a defender, the California native unleashed a curler destined for the top corner that Marcinkowski did well to cast aside at full extension.
The Earthquakes drew first blood eight minutes into the second half as Nathan rose to steer Cristian Espinoza’s corner kick in off the post. San Jose almost doubled their advantage five minutes later when MLS’ all-time leading goal scorer Chris Wondolowski found a pocket of open space near the penalty spot, but Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia produced a vital save to keep the deficit at 1-0.
An increasingly chippy affair began to boil over in the late stages as referee Joseph Dickerson issued a deluge of yellow cards, including a second bookable offense to San Jose midfielder Judson that reduced the Earthquakes to 10 men in the final moments.
With their tales up in search of an equalizer, Sporting were awarded a penalty kick in the 87th minute as Shea Salinas was judged to have fouled Russell. Much to the chagrin of a full Children’s Mercy Park, the call was overturned upon VAR and the elusive search for a game-tying tally dripped into stoppage time.
With 94 minutes on the clock, Russell surged into the attacking third and won Sporting a free kick 25 yards from goal. Although his subsequent effort was palmed onto the woodwork by Marcinkowski, Salloi swarmed to the loose ball and hammered into the gaping net from point-blank range to restore parity and ignite cathartic celebrations inside the stadium. Sporting extended their club-record home scoring streak to 22 regular season matches on the play as Salloi moved within two goals of the MLS Golden Boot lead.
Judson was sent off in the 95th minute after receiving a second yellow card for fouling Duke, whose eight fouls suffered were tied for the most by a single player in an MLS match this season. Salloi then went close to winning the contest for Sporting, but his right-footed attempt in the 99th minute failed to beat Marcinkowski.