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White Knight: Sporting Kansas City 1-0 Chicago Fire

Paulo Nagamura's second-half goal is the difference as Sporting KC defeats the Chicago Fire 1-0

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

It was a match won by the bench. A spectacular performance by Tim Melia, who earned the starting job in goal over Luis Marin was coupled with a goal by second-half substitute Paulo Nagamura gave Sporting KC the 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire.

Sporting KC improved to 3-2-4 on the year and jumped to fifth in the Western Conference. The Fire's three-game win streak came to a stop as they dropped to 3-4-0 on the year. They now occupy the sixth spot in the East.

It was a shaky start for Sporting KC as Melia was called on early to save a couple of shots. His first touch was clearing a long ball out of the box with a booming header.

Dom Dwyer continued his struggles and missed an absolute sitter in the 31st minute. Benny Feilhaber sent in a cross that found Dwyer all alone in front of goal but the ensuing header went over the bar and out of play. This would have been the best chance of the half, if it hadn't been for Kevin Ellis a couple of minutes later.

Sporting KC earned a corner kick in the 33rd minute and Benny Feilhaber ended up with the ball in a position to cross. His pass found the head of Ellis who rocketed it towards goal and banged it off the crossbar, down near the line and away from goal before being eventually cleared.

These missed chances would carry Sporting scoreless into the locker room.

Nagamura came on in the 65th minute for Roger Espinoza and proved to be a huge part of the game ten minutes later. Jalil Anibaba had space on the right flank and sent in a cross to the middle of the box, where Paulo Nagamura was there to loft the ball into the top left corner of the net for the goal. It was his first goal of 2015 and put Sporting KC in the lead for good.

Sporting received a late advantage in the 89th minute when David Accam was sent off. He put his hand to Anibaba's face in a stiff-arm type play near the sideline and earned a red card for the infraction. After this, Sporting KC was able to contain the Fire's late attacks and earned the 1-0 victory.

Sporting KC head to the capital next Saturday to take on old Eastern Conference foe DC United at 6 p.m.