Sporting KC kept their MLS is Back Tournament hopes alive with a thrilling 3-2 win over the nine men of the Colorado Rapids. Here are three things we learned.
With a fair amount of controversy, Graham Zusi’s stoppage-time goal was the difference between Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids. After a disappointing first half for Sporting KC, the tables turned as the Rapids grew increasingly frustrated after the break. And, after the late winner, Peter Vermes’ side lives to fight another day, despite their unconfident performance.
The five-goal thriller started in the sixth minute when Kellyn Acosta notched his first goal of the tournament. The 10 men of Colorado then allowed Khiry Shelton to equalize with a precise finish from an acute angle. Alan Pulido scored from the penalty spot to give SKC the 2-1 advantage over the now nine men of Colorado, before Jonathan Lewis spoiled the party. Zusi, though, found the stoppage-time winner with the help of a deflection.
Here are three things we learned from Sporting KC’s 3-2 win.
3. Questionable officiating
Referee David Gantar was the center of attention for much of the match. And, sadly, it was for all the wrong reasons. After calling a relatively loose yet inconsistent game, Gantar had a big call to make after a swinging arm from Nicolas Benezet made contact with Graham Zusi’s jaw. He deemed it to be a yellow. In the second half, Khiry Shelton was brought down by Danny Wilson, which went to VAR and was deemed a red-card offense as a professional last-man foul.
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In the 72nd minute, Zusi’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide by Diego Rubio, however, VAR deemed it a handball and Alan Pulido stepped up to convert the penalty. After frustrations took over the Rapids, captain Jack Price was sent off for some bad language directed at Gantar.
In the end, Sporting KC fans will feel the referee got most of the calls right. The Rapids, though, will be hugely aggrieved with the decisions that did not go their way. One thing is for sure, these were contentious calls that could have gone either way, illustrating the uncertainty and controversy of this sport.