Kai Kamara and Graham Zusi scored on penalty kicks in the second half Wednesday as Kansas City posted a controversial 3-1 victory over the slumping Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer.
Fans among the crowd of 12,085 booed through much of the second half after referee Sorin Stoica called Montreal's Patrice Bernier for an accidental hand ball in the area for one penalty and then awarded another after Impact captain Davy Arnaud made contact with an opponent on a Kansas City corner kick.
"I haven't seen something like that in 11 years in the league," a frustrated Arnaud said. "If we're going to start giving penalty kicks in the box for guys battling and fighting, there's going to be eight penalty kicks a game.
"Let's see consistency and call every single one. Every corner, every set piece, guys battle. That's the way the game's played. Guys don't mind it because that's the way it is."
After Kamara and Zusi converted from the spot to erase a 1-0 deficit, substitute Jacob Peterson put the match away for Kansas City (10-5-2) with a goal from the right side in the 82nd minute as Sporting ended a two-game losing run.
Bernier scored for Montreal (5-11-3), which lost a third match in a row and has conceded three goals in each contest.
Montreal could have put the game away in the opening 45 minutes but wasted a handful of glittering chances. Recently signed designated player Marco Di Vaio was at the centre of the action but failed to score for a third straight game in MLS.
Kansas City coach Peter Vermes said his team made adjustments after a rough first half and outplayed Montreal in the second. And he saw nothing wrong with the calls.
"I'm 100 per cent sure the penalties were justifiable and we should have had one in the first half because the same thing was happening," said Vermes. "Two of their guys were grabbing Kamara and C.J. Sapong every time they were in the box.
"I'm glad the ref had the (courage) to make the call. I saw them live. It's a hand ball. It's unfortunate, but that happens to everyone. On the other, there was no play on the ball and he tackled the man. You can't do that. Go win the ball."
Di Vaio's old Italian teammate, Alessandro Nesta, who has agreed to terms with Montreal and is waiting for league approval to begin play, watched from a private box with Impact management.
He got a first hand look at the wild side of MLS as fans rained boos on Stoica. At one point, Marsch took off his jacket and threw it on the ground in anger.
Marsch said he was fined last week for saying a referee showed bias and would have to temper his comments, but said "it's obvious why I reacted that way.
"We push hard and ultimately we get a lead and then the game goes haywire. It hurts right now a lot," said Marsch. "In that locker-room, there are a lot of crushed men. They put a lot into that game.
"I feel we've been on the hard end of a lot of calls this year. But feeling sorry for yourself is what losers do, so we're going to figure out how to regroup and we'll keep fighting."
To make matters worse, midfielder Felipe Martins and Arnaud drew their fifth yellow cards of the season and will be suspended for Sunday's home game against the Columbus Crew.
After wasting a handful of chances in a scoreless first half, Montreal broke the ice when Zarek Valentin found Felipe with a long pass up the right side. The Brazilian slipped it to Bernier trailing the play for his fourth goal of the season in the 49th minute.
Bernier was called for a hand ball in the area only eight minutes later when a headed ball bounced off his arm. Kamara made no mistake on the penalty kick.
Stoica seemed to take offence at Arnaud's vehement protest of the call and the booing reached full pitch when the Montreal was called for another foul in the area during a Kansas City corner. Zusi drilled his penalty in the left side for the game-winner in the 75th minute.
Di Vaio was all over the pitch in a first half in which the home side did everything but score.
Only five minutes in, Di Vaio sent Felipe in alone, but his shot from point blank was blocked by Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Neilsen. Then Justin Mapp sent Di Vaio in, but Felipe was slow to react to his pass across the box.
Di Vaio missed a glittering chance in the 29th minute when he was in alone and shot wide of goal. When he finally put the ball in a minute later, it was called offside.
Felipe, who seems to be an avid diver, was shown the yellow card after he went down in the Kansas City area. Arnaud got his caution for a remark made after a non-call of a foul on Felipe in the second half.
Notes: Bernier was back after serving a one-game suspension. Hassoun Camara was back at centre back for Montreal, while Valentin moved back to right fullback. ... Kansas City came in with a two-game losing streak and the one to pay the price was midfielder Julio Cesar, who was at left home. Paulo Nagamura took his spot. ... Sporting is at home Saturday against Houston.