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Russell salvages point for SKC in Colorado

Defensive mistake gives Colorado the lead until late Russell free kick

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting Kansas City made few changes to the lineup that advanced in the CONCACAF Champions League Thursday night. Kelyn Rowe was given his first start on the right wing for SKC and Gerso Fernandes on the left as the only changes from starting XI against CAI.

The first half found both teams searching for good opportunities with neither side forcing the opposing Tim’s to make hard saves. The most entertaining action in the first 45 was former team mates taking opportunities to foul each other.

Sporting KC did have an opportunity when a Tim Howard pass was intercepted but the ball ended up going off the crossbar.

For a team that prides itself on possession and building out of the back, it was that tendency that created the first goal. Early in the second half, the Rapids pressured as SKC passed the ball after a goal kick. Former Sporting KC number 9 Diego Rubio took advantage of a rare bad touch from Tim Melia and poached a goal from point blank range in the 55th minute.

In the 78th minute, the Rapids almost doubled their lead. Kellyn Acosta’s free kick deflected off the wall and caught Melia going in the direction the ball was originally going. Fortunately, the redirected ball went off the cross bar.

After the Rapids scored they had a little better run of play for a while but subs on both sides dramatically changed the momentum.

Scottish international Johnny Russell replaced Rowe on the wing and SKC started to create some more difficulty for Colorado again. While Russell made an impact, so did Colorado sub Johan Blomberg. The Rapids midfielder picked up a yellow right after entering the match and another when he kicked the ball away after the ref called a foul on his team mate. With the inevitable red card, SKC had the man advantage and a free kick from a dangerous spot.

Both Russell and Graham Zusi stood over the ball discussing who would take the shot. Zusi had some close attempts in recent matches but Russell was the one the made the run up to the ball. He delivered an almost perfectly placed ball over the wall that dipped under the crossbar, easily out of reach of Colorado’s Howard.

SKC pressed for a game winner but quickly ran out of time and had to settle for a single point.

With nearly two weeks off, most Sporting KC players will have a well earned rest and an easy week of practice. Botand Barath, Krisztian Nemeth, Johnny Russell and Abdul Rwatubyaye will all travel to represent their respective national teams.