Sporting Kansas City seemed to do everything and more late in Tuesday's match to escape a draw against Real Estelí FC. However, a heroic finish was not to be found as both squads played to a 1-1 draw.
"We should have scored more than one," manager Peter Vermes said after the game. "We had more than enough chances to put the game away, we didn't. Credit to their goalkeeper, he made a lot of great saves. Sometimes that's the way it goes when we have more than enough chances to win."
Sporting Kansas City was in the driver's seat through the first 53 minutes of the match with a handful of goal-scoring opportunities. It was in then in the 54th minute that Real Estelí made the home side pay for their missed chances when forward Rudel Calero headed away a corner to put the Nicaraguan side up 1-0.
An answer to Estelí's goal came in the 78th minute off a dribbling corner kick from Graham Zusi that met the foot of Jacob Peterson. Peterson darted towards the near post and was able to get enough on the ball to knock it through Justo Lorente's legs just before he was able to come up with the save.
"We were screaming off the bench, because they had everybody at the back post, and Jake's standing there all by himself, so it was really improvisation," Vermes said. "Credit to Graham for seeing it, and it was a great finish by Jake for sure."
A go-ahead goal seemed imminent as Sporting Kansas City sent in a barrage of balls towards the opposition's goal, including a 90-plus minute screamer off the foot of Benny Feilhaber that nearly sent Sporting Park into a frenzy, but Lorente and Real Estelí's defense weathered enough of the storm to earn a draw on the road.
"We didn't play with enough urgency to go out and win the game, and that's on ourselves," Matt Besler said after the match. "It's not on anybody else. We go home tonight very disappointed. We got to look ourselves in the mirror about how we performed tonight."
Forward Graham Zusi also voiced his displeasure with the result on Twitter saying, "Apologies to the fans. Embarrassing performance tonight."
Despite the disappointing result, Sporting Kansas City knocked out Real Estelí FC from Champions League contention. The squad will need only a draw or victory next month against Club Olimpia at Sporting Park to move on from the group stage of the tournament.