Returning home from a controversial road win against conference rivals Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City headed into Wednesday night’s battle against the LA Galaxy with an opportunity to take the top spot in the West leaders after Seattle dropped their second game in a row Tuesday night against LAFC.
Sporting KC would not be at full strength, though, as MLS announced on Wednesday morning that goalkeeper Tim Melia had been suspended for one game for his take down of Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan.
Undeterred, Peter Vermes decided to go with the exact same lineup as the one that beat Seattle except for John Pulskamp stepping in for the suspended Melia.
Sporting KC were still shorthanded on the offensive side with striker Alan Pulido and winger Daniel Salloi both out with injuries. The Galaxy were underpowered themselves, playing without star striker Chicharito.
With rain pouring down from the first kick, Ilie nearly opened the scoring in the second minute when he sent a loose ball in the box just off the left post. It bounced across the face of goal but no SKC player was there to put it in. Just minutes later Khiry Shelton nearly deflected a Jonathan Bond clearance into the goal, but it was cleared off the line by a Galaxy defender at the last second.
Sporting KC continued to look the more dominant attacking side throughout the first half, with the Galaxy only getting sporadic chances here and there. It was Johnny Russell who finally broke through for Sporting KC in the 40th minute.
Gadi Kinda sent the ball in from the left side of the field toward Khiry Shelton, who let the ball go through to Johnny with a beautiful little dummy. Russell took the ball, and after a vintage Johnny Russell move on the Galaxy defender he put it in the back of the net, scoring for his the eighth game in a row.
8 STRAIGHT GOALS.— x - Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) October 28, 2021
HIGHEST SCORING SCOT IN MLS HISTORY.
JOHNNY. F. RUSSELL. pic.twitter.com/aINLGBpYw5
Johnny and Zusi gave a nice little nod to Tim Melia and The Rock in the celebration, too...
"AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, HE'S BROKEN IN HALF." pic.twitter.com/BzAEEWx1VE— x - Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) October 28, 2021
The second half didn’t have quite the same intensity as the first, but Sporting KC were able to stave off the few LA Galaxy attacks without too much concern.
Leaving nothing to doubt, Johnny Russell sealed the Sporting KC victory in the 83rd minute with a gorgeous left-footed strike into the upper left corner of the net to give SKC the 2-0 lead.
After earning these three points, Sporting KC now are level with the Seattle Sounders at 58 points, though SKC technically holds the first place spot due to tie breakers. SKC have also earned at least one home playoff match.
Sporting will look to continue their winning ways and retain their hold of the top spot in the West on Sunday when they travel to Minnesota to face the Loons. Meanwhile, Seattle will host the LA Galaxy next Monday night.