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MLS Is Back tournament: Late goal gives Sporting KC win over Colorado Rapids

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi controls the ball July 12, 2020, against Minnesota United.
Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi, pictured Sunday, scored in stoppage time as Sporting Kansas City earned a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Friday night.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Graham Zusi scored in stoppage time to give Sporting Kansas City a wild 3-2 victory Friday night over the shorthanded Colorado Rapids in the MLS Is Back tournament.

Jonathan Lewis scored in the 84th minute to pull the Rapids into a 2-2 draw after Alan Pulido’s penalty kick put Sporting up in the 72nd minute. The match was contentious, with two second-half red cards taking the Rapids down to nine players.

The Rapids took the early lead when Kellyn Acosta scored with the inside of his left foot in the sixth minute.

Colorado’s Nicolas Benezet got a yellow card after an elbow to the face of Zusi, who was treated for several moments after the hit.

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The Rapids’ Danny Wilson pulled down Khiry Shelton as he was sprinting toward the goal. After a video review, Wilson was handed a red card and sent off in the 61st minute.

Because of COVID-19, the MLS Is Back tournament is being played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, and that’s created a surreal atmosphere.

Minutes later, Shelton tied the game from a difficult angle with a shot that sailed into the top of the net and into the far corner.

A controversial handball call on Diego Rubio gave Pulido the penalty kick, which he buried to put Sporting up 2-1.

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Just moments later, Colorado’s Jack Price was sent off with another red card after it appeared he said something to the referee. That took the Rapids down to nine players, but Colorado appeared to overcome the disadvantage with Lewis’ equalizer.

Sporting was without goalkeeper Tim Melia because of a red card in the last match. Richard Sanchez started in his place.

The Rapids also had a change in goal, starting William Yarbrough instead of Clint Irwin, who took a knock in the team’s opener. Yarbrough is playing for Colorado from Liga MX club Leon.

The two teams opened the regular season with a pair of victories before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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And both lost their opening matches in the MLS Is Back tournament, which is being played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.

Colorado fell 2-0 to Real Salt Lake, and Sporting lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Minnesota United, giving up both goals in stoppage time.

D.C. United 1, New England 1: Veteran Federico Higuain scored as a second-half substitute for a second consecutive match, and D.C. United rallied for a draw with the Revolution.

New England missed out on a chance to book a spot in the knockout round of the MLS Is Back tournament thanks to a defensive blunder midway through the second half.

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Higuain was able to chase down an awful back-pass by Revolution defender Antonio Delamea. The pass was short and left New England goalkeeper Matt Turner out of position. Higuain got to the ball first, dribbled around Turner and scored his second goal of the tournament.

Major League Soccer delayed the Charlotte, St. Louis and Sacramento expansion teams’ first seasons by one year each because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The draw left New England tied with Toronto FC on top of Group C with four points, while D.C. United earned its second straight draw.

Adam Buksa gave New England the lead early in the second half. Buska was first to react to a deflected shot, and his header beat D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid in the 51st minute. But New England’s attack was mostly missing after Buksa’s goal.

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Real Salt Lake 0, Minnesota United 0: Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United played to a scoreless draw in a match in which scoring opportunities were limited for both sides.

The teams remained at the top of Group D with four points, although Real Salt Lake has the advantage on goal difference. Still, it was a missed opportunity for both clubs as the winner would have clinched a spot in the round of 16 with a victory.

Instead, the match lacked excitement and scoring chances and was the second match of the tournament to finish in a scoreless draw.

The best scoring chance for either side came in the closing seconds of first-half stoppage time when Minnesota’s quick counter-attack finished with Robin Lod’s left-footed shot that beat RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath but rattled off the post.

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Lod had another opportunity early in the second half, but MacMath got his hand on the shot. Real Salt Lake nearly got a late winner only to watch Sam Johnson’s shot in the 87th minute pulled just wide of the goal.

MacMath finished with three saves, and Minnesota goalkeeper Tyler Miller had two.


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