By GARRETT DAVEY
KANSAS CITY, Kansas — On a night when both teams had aspirations of taking a hold of first place in the Eastern Conference, neither team could muster the goals needed to walk away with all three points
Sporting Kansas City dominated for stretches, and created more chances on Friday night at Livestrong Sporting Park, but managed just one goal against a resolute Philadelphia defense. Omar Bravo's second-half tally gave Sporting KC a lead briefly, but Sebastian LeToux finished off a perfect pass from Michael Farfan to help the Union earn a 1-1 draw.
The draw was enough to give Sporting KC a share of first place in the East, tying KC with the Columbus Crew, which plays the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday. The tie was enough to move Philadelphia into sole possession of third place in the East, a point ahead of Houston.
“Credit to them they came in and they came to defend and try to get a point," Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes said. "That was their goal, but I thought we played well.”
Bravo’s goal in the 56th minute came off a great cross from Kei Kamara down the left wing. Bravo snuck in behind Philly defender Gabriel Farfan and right-footed Kamara’s cross into the back of the net for his ninth of the campaign.
Before Sporting could enjoy their lead, however, Philly equalized on a well-worked goal in the 63rdminute. Michael Farfan saved a ball from rolling past the end-line and cut the ball back before finding a wide-open Le Toux, who slotted home his seventh goal in as many matches and eighth on the year.
Sporting KC had the bulk of possession throughout the match, but in the second straight match failed to turn it into a victory. Much of Kansas City’s attack came from the wings where Kei Kamara looked lively all night and Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic came from the back to provide width.
Sporting’s midfield controlled the ball well, and Julio Cesar’s move into the midfield after the halftime substitution of Aurelien Collin for Jeferson, allowed Sporting KC even more possession in the center of the park.
“I thought tactically it solved all of the issues we needed," Vermes said of the tactical change. "Julio brings experience and calmness and when he gets the ball it is very easy for us to build out through that central channel."
Much of the action occurred in the Sporting KC half, but Philly looked dangerous on the counter-attack. In the first half, this strategy led to several great opportunities for the Philly frontline. In the 16th minute, Veljko Paunovic saw Philly’s best chance of the first-half blocked by Sporting’s Chance Myers in the center of the box.
Kei Kamara had Kansas City’s best chance of the first half, but headed Jeferson’s corner off the Philly crossbar. The energy picked up in the second half, and after Bravo’s 56th minute goal Philly almost equalized in the 59th minute when substitute Jack McInerney right-footed effort ricocheted off Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen’s legs and looped over the cross bar.
After Le Toux’s 63rd minute goal, Sporting KC pressed forward and looked to take the lead. The home team's best chance came in the 69th minute, when C.J. Sapong found himself in space on the left wing, only to see his effort saved by Philly goalkeeper, Zac MacMath.
Sporting KC (10-9-11, 41pts) will look to take sole possession of first place in the East when Columbus visits Livestrong Park on Wednesday. Philadelphia (9-7-13, 40pts) next match is at home against D.C. United on Thursday.