Sporting Kansas City did not look like a team without their top two leading scorers on the season. The offense was full of life and three different goal scorers gave SKC the 3-2 win over a very dangerous Chicago Fire team.
The biggest moment of the night came just before halftime - and it came in style. Graham Zusi did very well to put the ball into danger from the touchline. It was a pinpoint pass right on the head of Latif Blessing, who redirected it towards goal. It took a brilliant save from Matt Lampson to keep the header out, but Benny Feilhaber was there to smash it home with an overhead kick from point-blank range, giving SKC the lead.
As the match began, the visitors were not content to sit back and let Sporting KC set the pace. Both sides came out of the gates with high intensity & a high press. Nemanja Nikolic was whistled for offside two times in the opening ten minutes, strengthening his lead atop MLS in the unfortunate category.
But SKC eventually settled in and gained an upper hand. In the 23’ minute Salloi would open the scoring off an individual counter attack. He received the ball deep in his own half off a miscue from Chicago. The Hungarian pushed forward, winning a race with a heavy footed Schweinsteiger. He took it into the box, dropped a shoulder, and fired a shot that took a nasty deflection before looping into the net.
But the early lead did not last long. Just five minutes later, Matt Polster pushed down the right flank and sent a very hopeful ball into the box. Matt Besler took a swing at the ball to clear it but he missed it badly. It went off the side of his leg and flew passed Melia for an own goal. Really unfortunate for the Captain, but one of those moments that happens to all center backs - although this was the first own goal of Matt’s career in KC.
Sporting KC would extend their lead to 3-1 soon after halftime. In the 51’ minute they were testing the Fire defense in the final third trying to find the right opening for a shot. The ball fell for Rubio who saw his chance and put his boot through it. The Chilean’s shot appeared to be headed on frame anyway, but it took the slightest deflection off Blessing and snuck inside the far post.
Chicago was far from done. Head Coach Veljko Paunovic brought on the speedy David Accam and The Fire were hungry to get back into the match. That substitution paid off in the 78’ minute. Patrick Doody sent in a ground cross and Accam got there first, poking the ball into the net. Just like that, the visitors were within a goal.
KC began to sit back and did well to fend off the increased pressure from Chicago as they looked for the equalizer over the final ten minutes. Vermes’ men stayed organized and closed out the match to secure a very well deserved three points.
The win put the boys back on top of the West as FC Dallas were defeated on the evening. Chicago stays in 2nd place in East after missing a chance to leapfrog Toronto FC. Next up is Atlanta United FC on Sunday, August 6th at Children’s Mercy Park.