Sporting KC scores early, shuts out Fire 2-0

Forward Alan Pulido, right, congratulated Johnny Russell following Russell’s goal that gave Kansas City a 2-0 lead in the match against the Chicago Fire. The game was Russell’s 100th appearance for Kansas City in the regular season. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

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.

The 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks brought out plenty of American flags, and a flyover of A-10 jets. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Jose Mauri, in his first match in front of the Kansas City fans, scored to give Sporting the early 1-0 lead. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Johnny Russell slid to keep control of the ball in the Chicago end. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Remy Walter headed the ball back toward the Chicago goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
The Chicago goalkeeper watched helplessly as Johnny Russell’s tap-in gave Kansas City its second goal within two minutes. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Daniel Salloi fired a shot on goal that led to a Kansas City score in the 4th minute. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
After the match, defender Ilie Sanchez got a hug, a homemade card, and a fan for life. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
A brace of Chicago defenders closed down Graham Zusi’s path to the goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Johnny Russell headed the ball near midfield. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Through a haze of celebratory blue smoke, fans in the Cauldron section cheered Mauri’s early goal. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

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