It was quite the afternoon for 17-year-old defender Erik Palmer-Brown. He got his first start and therefore his first minutes on the senior squad, his first foul turned into penalty kick called, his first yellow card and eventually his first red card.
That about sums up Sporting Kansas City's day at Toyota Park as they fell 2-1 to the Chicago Fire.
Sporting started the match playing a 3-5-2 formation with Erik Palmer-Brown in back because of Sporting KC's near-comical injury/callup concerns with their centerbacks. This meant that both Dom Dwyer and Claudio Bieler got the start up top.
Things started to go bad for the away side in the 6th minute when Quincy Amarikwa drove into the penalty box and drew a foul off of Eric Kronberg, earning the penalty kick for the Fire. Mike Magee blasted it home for his third goal of the year and Chicago lead 1-0 early.
Less than ten minutes later, things would fall apart again for Sporting KC in the penalty area. Benji Joya forced his way into the box against Erik Palmer-Brown and Palmer-Brown knocked Joya down near the end line, forcing the ref to call for the second penalty of the game. Magee would bury this one too and the home side was quickly up 2-0.
Sporting KC almost got right back into the game in the 17th minute with Igor Juliao sent a nice through ball to an open Dom Dwyer at the top of the box. Dwyer beat Johnson with his shot, but the ball went off the far post and was cleared away by the Fire defense.
Sporting would continue to pressure the Fire for the rest of the half but were unable to come away with a goal as the Fire took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
The 49th minute would set up the plot for the rest of the match when Erik Palmer-Brown was given his first booking on a tactical foul in the middle of the field. Amarikwa was making a move down the field and was about to set up a through ball before Palmer-Brown fouled him to earn the yellow.
Sporting KC was still searching for their first goal of the game in the 52nd minute when Paulo Nagamura drove down the middle of the pitch and sent the ball to Bieler in the box, where he fired a shot from the side of the box that was just inches too wide near post.
The match would continue to pile on to Sporting Kansas City in the 64th minute when Palmer-Brown missed the ball on a tackle on Amarikwa, clipping the Fire forward instead. Palmer-Brown would earn a second yellow card for this foul, which turned into an automatic red. Sporting KC was down to ten men for the last twenty five minutes of the match.
In the 68th minute, the fortunes started to turn for Sporting Kansas City. On a Benny Feilhaber free kick, Dom Dwyer was wide open to receive the curler from the other side of the box to finish it near post for the score. It was Dwyer's eighth goal of the year and the third game in a row that he has scored a goal. Just like that, Sporting KC was back in the match.
The ten-men scenario started to affect Sporting Kansas City defensively after that goal. In the 76th minute, Mike Magee got the ball up top after a defensive lapse from Sinovic and Myers, allowing him to get into the box with the ball. Eric Kronberg met him at the top and got a hand on the ball, clipping Magee and stopping the shot. Kronberg then won the race to knock the ball out of the reach of Magee again, preserving the one-goal deficit.
The Fire would get one more chance in stoppage time when Harrison Shipp was all alone on a breakaway counter attack, but Eric Kronberg forced him to take a bad shot right into his hands at the top of the box, keeping the score the same. That would end up being the final score as Chicago defeated Sporting KC 2-1.
Sporting KC will now be without five centerbacks as they take on Toronto this Friday at Sporting Park. Chicago, now armed with two wins in a row, travel to Columbus for a Saturday evening fixture.