by Brian Turrel
Sporting Kansas City made two early goals stand up for a 2-0 shutout win against the Chicago Fire at Children’s Mercy Park on Friday evening.
Newly signed midfielder Jose Mauri, in his first home appearance for Sporting, scored the first goal in the 4th minute. He took a gamble on a low-percentage shot from a few yards outside the penalty area.
Mauri’s chance paid off when Chicago goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, although well-positioned to make the save, let the ball slide underneath him and into the net.
Two minutes later, Johnny Russell, in his 100th regular season match for Kansas City, received the gift of an easy goal. The rebound from a Daniel Salloi shot came to him in front of the empty Chicago net, and a quick tap-in bagged Russell his fifth goal of the season.
Though the two quick scores made it look as though Sporting would walk away with the match, that was far from the case. Chicago made defensive adjustments that slowed the Kansas City offense, and in the second half, Chicago took the fight back to the other end of the pitch.
Some heroic saves by Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia and a couple shots that bounced off the crossbar were needed to keep Chicago off the scoreboard. The clean sheet was the team’s first at home since May.
The win moves Kansas City back into second place in the MLS Western Conference, two points behind Seattle.
The match with Chicago is the first of three consecutive home matches. With Colorado a single point behind in the standings and holding two games in hand, Sporting hopes to maximize their results in the three-game home stand.
The next match will take place against Minnesota United at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15.