By TATE STEINLAGE
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City needed only a Dom Dwyer penalty-kick to top the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, on Saturday to earn their first MLS victory of the season.
“It’s nice,” Dwyer said after the match about scoring the goal. “I think we really needed three points today. We can’t keep dropping points at home, especially. We needed to get a solid win in (the) league and we did that so we’re pleased, and that’s the most important thing. But it was nice to get a goal.”
The penalty call came in the 57th minute on San Jose forward Steven Lenhart, who’s hand made contact with the ball following a Sporting KC cross. Dwyer took a few seconds to discuss who would take the penalty with midfielder Benny Feilhaber before stepping up and scoring what would be the game-winning goal.
“Sometimes I have to think about it (which way I’ll go), but he was standing a little bit to the side where I went, so I figured, (since) he’s kind of a small goalie, he was going to take a step,” Dwyer said. “I just waited for him to move the other way.”
Dwyer’s goal marked the first score by a Sporting KC forward in over 500 minutes. More importantly, it capped off 56 minutes of dominating the match.
In the first half alone, Sporting KC had 60 percent of the possession and 11 shots, compared to just three shots for San Jose, but defender Ike Opara hitting the post twice in the 18th minute was the closest Sporting KC came to going ahead early.
Despite struggling in the first half, San Jose nearly came to life in the 71st minute. A botched cross and clearance left San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski with a wide-open look at goal, but the former MLS Golden Boot winner pushed his chance just left of the goal and Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.
That proved to the be the final opportunity for a San Jose equalizer. Sporting KC made sure they wouldn’t fall to a late goal for the third-straight match in league play.
“I’m pretty proud of this win because they’re very dangerous in the last five minutes of the game,” Kronberg said. “That’s something we’ve been working on, obviously with the last couple games, and we got it right this time. We managed the clock, we took the ball to the corner, and we did everything right to close out a win.”
The victory closes out a difficult stretch of five games in 15 days for Sporting KC (1-1-1). The team now has a mid-week break before returning to action next Saturday in Colorado against the Rapids. The San Jose Earthquakes (0-1-1) head back to California to prepare for their Saturday matchup at home against the New England Revolution.
Here are the match highlights: