Sporting KC dump Toronto FC with late goal
A badly depleted Toronto FC lineup appeared poised most of the evening to gain a hard-earned point on the road for the second straight game.
Unfortunately, a late-game collapse cost the Reds once again.
Substitute Oriol Rosell scored his first goal in Major League Soccer in the 88th minute, leading Sporting Kansas City to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday.
The loss dropped Toronto FC to 5-16-6, stretched its current winless streak to seven games and solidified its spot in the cellar of the Eastern Conference.
"It's a long-playing record," said Toronto defender Richard Eckersley, who headed several KC crosses out of the Toronto penalty area and assisted on Ryan Johnson's goal in the 44th minute.
"It's the same old story every week."
Indeed, it marked the fifth time in the last eight games Toronto, which is missing seven regulars from its lineup because of injuries, has allowed a goal after the 80th minute.
Rosell's late goal ruined what otherwise was a hard-fought effort in which Toronto effectively hunkered down on defence and waited for counterattack opportunities.
"Because of all of the injuries, we had to come in here and play a certain way," said Toronto coach Paul Mariner. "We set in and waited to break. We were in a great spot. I'm just heartbroken for the players. They put a great effort in."
Despite spending most of the first half on its heels defensively, Toronto FC entered halftime with a lead.
Some dogged defence by Eckersley, Darren O'Dea and Jeremy Hall in the box kept Sporting from finishing its numerous chances.
Goalkeeper Freddy Hall was required to make just two routine saves, one off a meek shot by Sporting's C.J. Sapong in the 22nd minute and a second on a wild shot from Roger Espinoza outside the box in the 41st minute.
Toronto's only scoring chance prior to scoring came in the 35th minute, when Andrew Wiedeman broke free behind the KC defence, but 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen beat him to the ball for the save.
But with a minute left in the half, Toronto finally got the break it needed. Eckersley found Johnson unmarked on the left side, just outside the KC penalty area. Johnson took one dribble toward goal and slid a shot low that beat Nielsen to his left and found the right corner of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
It was Toronto's only shot of the half.
"I knew he was peeling off his man, so I just played the ball back to him," Eckersley said.
Johnson nearly handed Toronto a two-goal lead in the opening minutes of the second half when he took a ball just outside the Sporting area and fired a shot off the right post.
Instead, Sporting KC earned the equalizer in the 60th minute following an unfortunate foul and yellow card by Toronto midfielder Terry Dunfield on Graham Zusi just outside the box.
Zusi's free kick was headed out, but Sporting midfielder Paulo Nagamura took the rebound with a swinging right foot that bounced the ball hard to the turf and high over Hall's head into the net.
"We failed to clear the line," Mariner said.
Toronto FC nearly regained the lead in the 79th minute when Luis Silva gained possession of a cross at the top of the KC six-yard box. Silva got off a hard shot, but Nielsen made a nice diving save.
That set up Rosell's game-winner nine minutes later. Myers, who had been dangerous on the right side the entire game, fluttered a cross into the box that Rosell skipped past an outstretched Hall into the left corner.
"It's a hard way to lose," said Toronto defender Jeremy Hall. "We led 1-0 against a really good team at their place. Their first goal was a bad goal. The second one was just heartbreak in the 88th minute.
"Yeah, it sucks."