— Sporting Kansas City (2-4-5, 11 points) settled for a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3-6-4, 13 points) on Saturday night in the 150th MLS match played at Children’s Mercy Park.
Krisztian Nemeth fired the hosts ahead after 37 minutes with his team-best 11th goal of the season in all competitions before receiving a red card early in the second half. Ten-man Sporting nearly held on for all three points, but Vancouver salvaged a last-gasp equalizer when substitute Derek Cornelius bagged his first career MLS goal in the 94th minute to ensure a share of the spoils.
Working with an injury-hit squad, Sporting Manager Peter Vermes was without the services of 10 players but welcomed defender Matt Besler back into the starting XI after a four-week absence due to a hamstring strain. The captain was one of two lineup changes from last weekend’s 1-0 loss at D.C. United, replacing Graham Smith in central defense, while Kelyn Rowe was deployed as a winger in place of the injured Daniel Salloi.
Midfielder Benny Feilhaber made his highly anticipated return to Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, having previously starred for Sporting from 2013-2017, and he offered a prompt reminder of his playmaking abilities in the fourth minute with an impudent diagonal ball into the path of Felipe Gutierrez. The Chilean managed to poke an acrobatic shot on target, but Maxime Crepeau sprawled low for his first of six saves on the night.
The hosts moved the ball with sharpness during a dominant first-half display, with Feilhaber and Ilie Sanchez both seeing shots blocked through traffic to culminate sharp buildups in the attacking third. Forward Johnny Russell was also active and involved, cutting past multiple defenders in the 29th minute and swinging in a cross that narrowly evaded Rowe at the far post.
Sporting’s superiority paid off eight minutes prior to halftime when Feilhaber won a firm tackle at midfield and set Russell free down the right channel. The Scot’s left-footed effort was saved by Crepeau, but Nemeth was on hand to settle the ball and stab home the rebound for his seventh league goal of the campaign and the 19th of his MLS career.
Nemeth’s evening soured in the second half, however, as he was sent off in the 51st minute for an aggressive challenge on Vancouver’s Felipe near midfield. The ejection drastically changed the complexion of the match and lessened Sporting’s stranglehold on proceedings.
Despite holding a man advantage, Vancouver struggled to create clear-cut chances and nearly fell behind by two in the 71st minute. Rowe galloped forward on the breakaway and uncorked a sizzling strike that Crepeau tipped over the bar. Two minutes later, Gutierrez exploited a pocket of space and pulled the trigger from 18 yards, forcing the Vancouver keeper into another stop.
The Whitecaps looked consigned to defeat as the match ebbed and flowed into second-half stoppage time, but head coach Marc Dos Santos’ side would have the last laugh. With 94 minutes on the clock, Ali Adnan delivered a clever cutback into the middle of the penalty area, where Cornelius hammered a first-time shot past goalkeeper Tim Melia to silence the Children’s Mercy Park crowd and leave Sporting in stunned disbelief.
The goal was Cornelius’ first since joining Vancouver in January, ultimately extending Sporting’s winless run to seven MLS matches and nine games across all competitions since the start of April.
With a frustrating stalemate behind them, Sporting will resume their three-game homestand next Sunday, May 26, with a high-profile matchup against Seattle Sounders FC at 5 p.m. CT. Tickets for the Western Conference clash-slated to air live nationally on FS1-are on sale now at SeatGeek.com.