KANSAS CITY, KS – The weather may have been sweltering but that didn’t stop Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC from playing 90 minutes of thrilling soccer Saturday night in 100-degree heat.
The sides combined for six goals as Kansas City (6-6-8) grabbed three in a nine-minute stretch in the first half and added another in the second period to knock off Toronto, 4-2, in front of 16,382 fans at Livestrong Sporting Park.
VIDEO: Danny Koevermans opens his Toronto FC account at the 51st minute.
Kei Kamara had two goals, one a superb scissor kick, and Omar Bravo added two more to extend Sporting’s unbeaten streak to 12 games. Danny Koevermans scored his first career MLS goal for Toronto (3-10-10) and Ryan Johnson scored his first for the club as well.
Unlike the dour draw the two sides played to in Toronto, the second meeting between the two teams started fast and furious as the goalkeepers were forced into three difficult saves in the opening 15 minutes and the goals coming soon thereafter.
Jimmy Nielsen made the best of the bunch in the third minute when he denied Koevermans his first MLS goal by sticking a mitt out to force the ball over the top of the crossbar.
Koevermans put another opportunity wide of Nielsen’s far post in the ninth minute before Stefan Frei was called into action to make a fine double save. First, he palmed away Julio Cesar’s long drive but left the rebound in the field of play. Kamara pounced on the loose ball and one-timed an effort on goal, but Frei was equal to that as well.
But there was absolutely nothing Frei could do about Kamara’s next effort in the 28th minute. Jéferson’s corner kick took a ricochet in the box and the Sierra Leone international rose and unleashed a flying scissor kick that found the net.
And Kamara wasn’t done there. Just five minutes later, Roger Espinoza’s floating, right-footed cross found him at the far post, where he rose high above Yourassowsky and nodded the ball underneath Frei at the stick.
Not to be outdone, Bravo and Jéferson—playing in his league debut—combined for Sporting’s third goal in nine minutes. After Espinoza and Julio Cesar took the ball off Maicon Santos in the midfield, Jéferson slipped Bravo through on goal. The Mexican rounded Frei then finished from an acute angle to give the home side a 3-0 advantage.
Aron Winter pulled Santos just before the break, and the sides came out in the second half just as explosive as the first. Just seconds in, Aurelien Collin’s mistake forced Nielsen into a sprawling save from Johnson’s shot and it wasn’t too much later that Toronto got one back.
Once again it was Koevermans on the end of the chance as Johnson curled the ball to the back post and the Dutchman headed it off the ground and into the top corner past a diving Nielsen to make it 3-1 in the 50th minute.
Kansas City manager Peter Vermes responded by replacing C.J. Sapong with Teal Bunbury and Julio Cesar with Graham Zusi before an injury to Collin forced him to use his third substitution to bring on Daneil Cyrus just 62 minutes into the match.
But the changes turned out to be a masterstroke as Zusi slipped Chance Myers down the right sideline and the right back found Bravo alone at the six-yard box, where he side-footed the ball past Frei for Kansas City’s fourth.
But just as soon as the deficit was three, the Reds chopped it back down to two when Cyrus allowed a ball over the top to drop and his back pass to Nielsen came up short. Johnson latched onto the ball and slotted it inside the far post to pull the visitors back to 4-2 with 18 minutes remaining.
KC -- Kei Kamara 4 (unassisted) 28
KC -- Kei Kamara 5 (Roger Espinoza 3, C.J. Sapong 4) 34
KC -- Omar Bravo 5 (Jeferson 1) 37
TOR -- Danny Koevermans 1 (Ryan Johnson 1) 50
KC -- Omar Bravo 6 (Chance Myers 1, Graham Zusi 4) 64
TOR -- Ryan Johnson 1 (unassisted) 72
Sporting KC -- Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin (Daneil Cyrus 62), Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara, Roger Espinoza, Jeferson, Julio Cesar (Graham Zusi 58), Omar Bravo, C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 53).
Substitutes Not Used: Birahim Diop, Michael Harrington, Milos Stojcev, Eric Kronberg.
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Mikael Yourassowsky (Ashtone Morgan 58), Andy Iro, Richard Eckersley, Eddy Viator, Maicon Santos (Matt Stinson 44), Torsten Frings (Doneil Henry 80), Gianluca Zavarise, Ryan Johnson, Danny Koevermans, Nick Soolsma.
Substitutes Not Used: Danleigh Borman, Ty Harden, Nathan Sturgis, Milos Kocic.
TOR -- Eddy Viator (caution; Reckless Foul) 31
KC -- Kei Kamara (caution; Reckless Foul) 66
TOR -- Matt Stinson (caution; Tactical Foul) 68
KC -- Graham Zusi (caution; Reckless Tackle) 76
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Mike Rottersman
4th Official: Landis Wiley