Dom Dwyer walked on the Sporting Kansas City field Saturday fastened in the longest scoring slump of his breakout season. The man with the most talked-about goal celebration in Major League Soccer this season hadn’t cherished one in five weeks.
He broke out of the slump Saturday — and then some.
Dwyer produced his fifth multi-goal game of the season as part of Sporting Kansas City’s 4-1 victory against visiting Toronto FC.
Dwyer converted a pair of penalty kicks in the opening half, and Soony Saad and C.J. Sapong tacked on second-half goals to help Sporting KC extend its lead atop the Eastern Conference standings to five points over second-place D.C. United.
The onslaught of goals made a winner out of goalkeeper Jon Kempin in his first career MLS start, which came in front of his hometown fans at Sporting Park. Kempin, 21, graduated from Blue Valley North.
In notching his 15th and 16th goals of the season, Dwyer moved into second place on the franchise’s all-time single-season scoring list.
They rarely have come easier this season than they did Saturday.
Dwyer converted two penalty kicks — he’s six for six from the dot this season — to secure his first goals since July 12 in Montreal. He has a knack for scoring against teams north of the border. Dwyer has tallied 10 goals against Canadian teams this season, including four against Toronto FC.
Saad had to work a bit more for his strike. He used only one touch to collect a ricochet off a corner kick, then turned and squeezed a 20-yard laser into a small crevasse in the left side of the goal. Saad also assisted on Sapong’s goal in the 77th minute.
That punctuated a bounce-back performance for Sporting Kansas City, which only six days earlier was easily handled by Vancouver in a 2-0 loss — a defeat that drew some negative comments from Sporting CEO Robb Heineman on Twitter.
The second-half strikes also provided some much-welcomed breathing room for Kempin. Kempin — who started in place of the injured Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum — made two saves for his first career MLS victory.
He had to work for it.
Gilbert Oliveira Souza executed a nifty flick to beat Kempin in extra time of the first half and cut Toronto’s deficit to 2-1, but Kempin would earn payback. With his club still clinging to the one-goal advantage, Kempin stoned Souza in a one-on-one chance only 6 minutes into the second half.
Toronto defender Jackson Goncalves — responsible for the first penalty kick when he tripped midfielder Benny Feilhaber — had an opportunity to atone for his mistake in the second half when he found himself one-on-one with Kempin. But he took too long to make his move, and Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin hustled back to clear the ball from danger.
Kempin will likely earn another start Tuesday when Sporting Kansas City travels to Nicaragua to face Real Esteli in the opening round of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Sporting KC will return to Sporting Park on Saturday to play host to D.C. United at 7:30 p.m