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MLS Wrap: Sporting KC win battle of Conference leaders

Ike Opara has scored an injury-time header to give Sporting Kansas City a 2-1 win over fellow MLS conference leaders Real Salt Lake.

Eastern Conference leaders Sporting came from behind at Real’s Rio Tinto Stadium, with Soony Saad notching an acrobatic equaliser for the visitors in the 67th minute before Opara leapt highest to head Graham Zusi’s corner home in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time.

In a dramatic second half, Real had to play over 20 minutes with 10 men after defender Chris Wingert received his second yellow card in the 66th minute for pulling back Saad, after the Lebanese forward had looked set to burst away.

Saturday’s win has taken Sporting four points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference after second-placed Montreal Impact were held to a scoreless draw by FC Dallas, while Real remain first in the Western Conference, two points ahead of Portland Timbers, who drew 0-0 away to Philadelphia Union.

At Rio Tinto Stadium, Robbie Findley gave the hosts the lead in the 56th minute after a terrible blunder by Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

The Danish ‘keeper looked certain to collect Ned Grabavoy’s loopy free-kick into the penalty area but the ball slipped through Nielsen’s fingers and Findley was on hand to nod home from close range.

Wingert’s red card turned the game, as Sporting equalised immediately from the resultant free-kick through Saad, who scored on the turn after a goal-mouth scramble, following Real’s failure to clear the ball from their defensive penalty area on three occasions.

Sporting were suddenly on top but had to wait until just about the last play of the game for the winning goal when Opara rose above two Real defenders to score.

In Los Angeles, the Galaxy came from behind to overcome Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 as Gyasi Zardes scored a stunner to clinch victory for the home side.

After Jose Villarreal had cancelled out Camilo Sanvezzo’s opening goal for Vancouver, LA took the lead in the 57th minute when Zardes burst onto a long pass out of Galaxy’s defence, retrieved the ball on the by-line, flicked it past Brad Rusin, ran around the outside of the Whitecaps defender and finished with aplomb.

The win took LA to third in the Western Conference on 33 points, four behind Real, while Vancouver (32 points) dropped to fourth.

In other MLS results, Chris Rolfe scored a brace in the first half as Chicago Fire ended a two-game losing streak with a 4-1 thumping of DC United, while New York Red Bulls drew 0-0 away to Toronto FC.

New England Revolution defeated Columbus Crew 2-0 and Seattle Sounders drew 1-1 with Colorado Rapids.

Sun 21 Jul, 2013
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