Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union traded second-half goals at Sporting Park on Friday as the two sides played to a 1-1 draw.
Graham Zusi put the hosts in front nine minutes after the intermission, but super-sub Brian Brown marked his second MLS appearance with a crucial goal as he leveled the score just two minutes after entering the contest.
The result sees Sporting (11-5-6) climb to 39 points on the season to move two points clear of D.C. United at the Eastern Conference summit, though Ben Olsen's side holds two games in hand.
Philadelphia (5-8-9) is unbeaten in its last four league matches to improve to 24 points on the season.
After a dull spell in the early going of Friday's affair, the match opened up just before the halftime interval with both sides trading scoring chances in the final five minutes of the first period.
Philadelphia was awarded a free kick at the edge of the penalty area in the 41st minute that resulted in Vincent Nogueira curling a superb effort toward the upper corner, but Andy Gruenebaum was able to tip the ball out of play.
Kansas City answered with a great scoring chance in the 45th minute when Zusi's pass was met by Mikey Lopez, but the Sporting midfielder placed his powerful shot directly at Zac MacMath.
The Union countered immediately and nearly stole the lead in stoppage time as Danny Cruz slipped a through ball to an unmarked Sheanon Williams on the right side of the box, but Gruenebaum came up big once again by parrying the shot to safety.
The visitors wasted little time in applying more pressure to the Kansas City net in the second half as Brian Carroll latched on to a through ball from Cruz in the 48th minute to get clear on goal, but Gruenebaum once again bailed out the Sporting defense to preserve the level score.
The score was not level for much longer as Antonio Dovale capitalized on a defensive giveaway from the Union in the 54th minute to release Zusi, who fired a quick shot past MacMath for his third goal of the season.
Zusi has a tremendous chance to double the advantage just one minute later when he collected a pass from Dom Dwyer but saw his attempt slide just inches wide of the far post.
Sporting would rue that miss as the Union equalized in the 71st minute.
Brown, who only entered the match in the 69th minute, made an immediate impact by getting on the end of a cross from Raymon Gaddis and sending a brilliant snap header past Gruenebaum for his first career MLS goal.
Kansas City came closing to going back in front in the 78th minute when Igor Juliao's pass across the face of goal was met by Dwyer, but the Sporting striker failed to direct the service on frame as his shot sailed just inches over the woodwork.
The final great chance of the match fell to the Union in stoppage time when a scramble in front of goal saw Williams and Maurice Edu lash shots on target, but Sporting managed to escape the chaos to salvage a point.