(Photo credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
Sporting Kansas City's Johnny Russell scored an early goal and then watched the final 63 minutes after receiving a red card as his teammates defeated the Houston Dynamo 2-1 to close within one point of the red line in the Western Conference.
Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia made a game-saving stop on a one-on-one approach by Corey Baird in the fourth minute of minutes of stoppage time. Melia earned his 100th win for the franchise in all competitions.
Sporting KC (10-13-8, 38 points) sits one point behind Dallas for the ninth spot in the Western Conference. SKC extended its unbeaten streak to six matches against Houston.
The Dynamo (12-11-7, 43 points) came in with an MLS-best seven-match unbeaten streak, outscoring the opposition 15-2 in those matches.
Houston, which will play for the title in the U.S. Open Cup against FC Miami on Wednesday, used all five of its substitutions midway through the second half.
Russell opened the scoring in the seventh minute on a penalty kick. The penalty was called when Sebastian Kowalczyk was called for a hand ball in the penalty area on a shot by Erik Thommy.
The match turned in the 37th minute, when Russell was shown a straight red card for a hard foul on the right touch line. Russell made contact with the ball, which was not even ruled a foul by the lead official. But VAR reversed the call, ending Russell's night prematurely.
Willy Agada put Sporting up 2-0 in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time. Khiry Shelton held the ball just outside the box. He fed Thommy, whose shot caromed off two Houston defenders before landing at Agada's feet. Houston keeper Steve Clark had no chance at stopping it.
But Houston pulled one back off a free kick in the ninth minute of stoppage time. Ethan Bartlow lofted it into the box, and Teenage Hadebe left-footed a shot from close range.
--Field Level Media