The rain didn’t stop Wednesday evening and neither did Sporting Kansas City captain Johnny Russell, who scored both goals against the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 2-0 win. The goals extended Russell’s club record scoring streak to 8 consecutive matches.
Reserve goalkeeper John Pulskamp, pressed into service due to Tim Melia’s one-game suspension, kept the visitors off the board with two saves on well-hit Galaxy shots.
Sporting just missed an opportunity for an early lead in the 2nd minute. A corner kick from Russell fell to Ilie Sanchez, but his shot banged off the goalpost.
Kansas City had another flurry of shots near the quarter-hour mark, along with four consecutive corner kicks, but the Galaxy defense held fast.
Pulskamp earned his first save of the match when he got a leg on a shot from Dejan Joveljic in the 30th minute.
Five minutes before the break, Russell put Kansas City on the scoreboard. Gadi Kinda passed the ball to the Scottish forward in the right corner. Russell slipped the ball past defender Niko Hamalainen to earn a clean shot that he rocketed between the goalkeeper and the near post.
At the defensive end, Pulskamp picked up his second save in the 60th minute, smothering a shot at close range, and defender Luis Martins made a sliding block to deny the Galaxy an equalizing goal in the 73rd minute.
In the 83rd minute, Russell scored again off a pass from Kinda. From the right side, he curled the ball into the upper left corner of the net to double the lead.
The win puts Kansas City back atop the MLS Western Conference standings, and it assures them of at least one home game in the MLS Cup playoffs that start Nov. 20.
Kansas City has two games on the road at Minnesota (Oct. 31) and Austin (Nov. 3) before returning home to face Real Salt Lake in the regular season finale on Nov. 7.
Sporting Kansas City doubled up the Houston Dynamo 4-2 at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday afternoon. Johnny Russell scored twice, his sixth goals in the past five games, having just renewed his contract with the club for at least the next two years.
The Scottish winger earned his first goal in the 16th minute when he was brought down just inside the penalty area by Houston defender Teenage Hadebe. Though Russell had to wait for a video review, the penalty was confirmed, Hadebe was booked, and Russell slapped the ball confidently inside the right post for the 1-0 lead.
Daniel Salloi doubled the home side’s lead in the 26th minute. After Salloi’s near-miss in the 22nd minute, Gadi Kinda slotted in a pass down the left side of the box that Salloi knocked inside the far post from about 8 yards. The goal was the Hungarian forward’s 16th of the year, just one off the pace of league-leading Ola Kamara of D.C. United.
Blanked in the first half, Houston brought renewed urgency after the halftime break, and shortly had Kansas City under pressure. Goalkeeper Tim Melia made a sliding, spinning save to hold off a shot in the 49th minute, but Houston was right back and scored in the 50th minute, on a Fafa Picault shot aided by defender Griffin Dorsey.
Houston nearly scored again 6 minutes later, but Picault’s possible equalizer was waved away for offsides.
Kansas City earned back its two-goal advantage in the 58th minute. Salloi returned Kinda’s favor and played a give-and-go to the midfielder. Kinda then juked to his right to create an opening and fired home from just outside the 6-yard box.
Houston pulled back within one in the 76th minute on Darwin Quintero’s header of a cross from Picault.
Russell scored again in the final minute of regulation. He created his own opportunity by racing past Houston defender Maynor Figueroa on the right wing and jumping an attempted tackle from Hadebe. Facing only goalkeeper Michael Nelson, Russell curled his shot across the goal and inside the far post.
After the match, manager Peter Vermes extolled Russell’s virtue as a player and team captain.
“You see what he does on the field,” Vermes said, “but he’s an incredible leader with the group. He has a great personality. He’s one of those guys that in the big moments, he doesn’t break. He bends, but he always comes back. He’s got more than just what you see him do on the field. He’s got a big presence in our team. We’re lucky to have him on our team and in our club.”
Forward Alan Pulido came on as a late substitute in his second match back from injury. Pulido struggled to get on the end of some passes forward and looked to have some work to do to get back in game condition.
The win vaulted Kansas City back into first place in the MLS Western Conference. However, Kansas City’s closest rivals, the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids both have two games in hand and can spring back in front with favorable results.
Sporting KC will have a two-week break for international play. Kinda (Israel) and Salloi (Hungary) have both been called up to their national teams.
Kansas City’s next game will be on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps, although the match will take place in Portland due to Canada’s Covid restrictions. The next home game will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 against the L.A. Galaxy.
Sporting Kansas City handed a first lead to the Seattle Sounders and suffered a 2-1 home defeat to its conference rivals at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday evening.
The nearly-full stadium was packed with excitement as the warm day settled into a comfortable evening. The teams traded possessions in the first 10 minutes, but neither team was able to get off a shot attempt.
Cristian Roldan put Seattle in front in the 31st minute off a pass from Brad Smith, and the Sounders went to the lockers with a 1-0 advantage.
Seattle doubled its lead in the 55th minute. A series of three Kansas City corner kicks failed to net a goal, and Seattle got out on a counter-attack. Graham Zusi made a fine block, but for nought with a Sounders forward heading the ball moments later.
Johnny Russell was Kansas City’s second-half hero, earning one goal back in the 60th minute. Luis Martins lofted a direct kick to Russell outside the 6-yard box to the right of goal. Russell settled the ball off his chest and then blasted a left-footed shot off the hands of Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Russell, together with Khiry Shelton, created a string of offensive chances in the latter stages of the game, but they were unable to convert them onto the scoreboard.
The Sounders leapfrogged Kansas City to the top of the MLS Western Conference standings, with a two-point lead and a game in hand. Kansas City will play Dallas FC on the road this Wednesday, and will be back in action at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday against the Houston Dynamo. Kickoff for the game is 3 p.m.