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Sporting KC 2020 Year in Review: Johnny Russell

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The MVP gets his year reviewed.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas Tim Flores-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 MLS season has come to an end and much like we did in 2019 for Sporting Kansas City, it’s time to look back at how each player performed. Keep in mind the stats look diminished for many players, but just 21 regular season games were played in this COVID shortened season (instead of the typical 34). For the full list of players reviewed, head to our dedicated Year in Review page.


The Blue Testament continues our look back at 2020 with the team’s MVP, Johnny Russell.

2020 Stats

Games Played (Started): 21 (17)

Minutes Played: 1,529

Goals: 6 (tied team lead)

Assists: 4

xG (expected goals): 5.52

Positions Played: Right Wing predominantly, but he played on the left too

2019 Salary: $1,449,999.96

2020 Salary: Unknown - But likely at or slightly above 2019

Contract Through (Option Years): 2021 (None)

Best Moment of 2020

This is tough. I want to say the two goal outing against Dallas on September 19th, but as you no doubt remember KC couldn’t beat FC Dallas this year. Russell would never stand for his best moment being a loss.

So instead I’ll cheat a bit and say being the Team MVP. It’s another “accumulation of moments” that led to this. From leading the team in scoring and he probably should have led in assists. Plus, he took the captain’s armband this year, because he’s an important cog in the machine. This is after he was fighting to even start coming into the year. Russell is always a consistent performer and he seems likely to add another 10/10 season if not for the shortened schedule.

Worst Moment of 2020

It’s a fresh wound, so I’ll say the Minnesota United playoff loss. Russell put himself into fantastic spots for golden opportunities to get Kansas City into the lead early. Instead his chip was headed off the line and his later shot saved by Dayne St. Clair when he probably could have played a simple square ball to Gerso Fernandes for the tap in. He looked like he was going to will the team to victory on that day, but it all fell apart in 12 horrific minutes. If the team is up one or two to nothing, maybe the flow of the game is different.

Interesting Stat

10.21. That’s Russell’s combined expected goals (5.52) and expected assists (4.68). He was by far the team leader here, with the next closest player being Gadi Kinda (7.59). Russell’s 30 key passes (team best) heavily contributed to scoring chances, even if his teammates didn’t always finish them. Hopefully a healthy Pulido and other attacking help (the return of Felipe Gutierrez or another DP level player?) will only push those numbers further up for Russell.

Fan Vote: Keep, Banish or Wait

Pick up 2021 Option: 99%

Decline 2021 Option: <1%

Pick up 2021 Option and Sell: <1%

I said yesterday it gets closer from here, well I was wrong. While 12 people wanted to sell Pulido only four people (of over 300 votes) didn’t have a desire to see Russell back in 2021. He’s a leader and fan favorite. The voting definitely gets more spread out starting tomorrow.