Sporting Kansas City (8-15-7, 31 pts.) settled for a 0-0 draw with Houston Dynamo FC (8-16-6, 30 pts.) at PNC Stadium on Saturday night. Despite playing with a man advantage following Matias Vera’s 41st-minute red card, Sporting was unable to find a way through a stubborn Dynamo backline.
Manager Peter Vermes made two changes from last Sunday’s draw in LA, as Felipe Hernandez stepped into central midfield in place of Roger Espinoza, while Ben Sweat returned from a recent back ailment to replace Logan Ndenbe at left back with the Belgian not making the trip while in health and safety protocols.
The game sprung to life just before the 15-minute mark as first Houston’s Teenage Hadebe saw a volley ricochet dangerously around the Sporting area before John Pulskamp pounced on the loose ball. Moments later, Johnny Russell cut inside on his left foot and curled an effort wide of the post from the edge of the area.
Felipe Hernandez went close in the 18th minute as he latched onto the ball on the edge of the area after Russell’s free kick had been half-cleared, but his strike fizzed wide of the post. Moments later, Erik Thommy almost provided the breakthrough as his thunderous effort from 25 yards was tipped onto the crossbar by Steve Clark.
A major flashpoint arrived in the 41st minute when Houston’s Vera, already sitting on a yellow card, crunched into Willy Agada near the halfway line and was sent off after being shown a second yellow card, leaving Sporting to play the final 49 minutes up a man.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was Houston that created the first threatening moment of the second half as Sebastian Ferreira, Fafa Picault and Corey Baird all linked up to get in behind the Sporting backline but Sweat produced an impressive defensive intervention to clear the ball in front of goal. When the ball recycled out, Picault’s shot was deflected into the path of Baird but Pulskamp raced off his line to charge down the winger’s effort.
In the 56th minute, Sweat popped up on the other end of the field as he drove into the area and lashed an effort on goal that Clark was forced to tip onto the bar for the second time on the evening.
Four minutes later, Pulskamp was called upon again to keep the game level as he dove to his left to parry away Picault’s effort from just inside the area.
Sporting should’ve taken the lead in the 65th minute as Sweat’s delivery picked out Willy Agada in the area and his powerful header was tipped into the air by Clark before Daniel Salloi thrashed the ball across the face of goal. Agada had another great look at goal in the 74th minute as again Sweat picked out the Nigerian striker but he flashed his left-footed strike narrowly over the bar.
Substitute Marinos Tzionis almost found a way through in the 80th minute as he controlled a bouncing ball and his volley seemed destined for the bottom left corner, but Clark was able to tip it around the post. A minute later, Tzionis picked out Agada sandwiched between the two Houston center backs but was unable to redirect his header on target.
With Sporting piling numbers forward looking for a winner in stoppage time, the Dynamo should’ve stolen it as Adalberto Carasquilla fed Thor Ulfarsson inside the area who saw his powerful effort tipped onto the underside of crossbar and out by Pulskamp. It was a day for the goalkeepers as Clark had the final say, pushing away Tzionis’ close-range attempt deep into stoppage time.
Sporting will now play their next three matches in the friendly confines of Children’s Mercy Park, starting with Tuesday’s clash with D.C. United. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT with tickets available via SeatGeek.com.