On a rainy Saturday afternoon, Sporting Kansas City were handed their second straight loss of the season in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Fire in Chicago. The Peter Vermes led side were severely undermanned as they were without their 3 Designated Players in Gadi Kinda, Johnny Russell and Alan Pulido, one of their top goal scorers last year in Daniel Salloi, and backup forward Khiry Shelton.
The depleted Sporting Kansas City lineup struggled to create any offense in the first half while under heavy pressure from the Fire in the midfield. Their lack of any consistent midfield play relegated Sporting to one shot in the first half and several long balls up to Nikola Vujnovic, who received his second start in as many weeks.
Even still, Sporting Kansas City counter pressed well, breaking up several Chicago Fire attacks. That is until the 30th minute when an errant pass from Ben Sweat in his own half led to a Chicago Fire counterattack and a savable shot from the Fire’s Kacper Przybylko found the back of the net to give the Fire the lead into half time.
Sporting Kansas City came into the second half with much more fight and considerably more offense, stringing together a little trademark Sporting Kansas City possession. That spark was short lived when Kortne Ford fouled Maurio Pineda in the box in 50th minute. Xherdan Shaqiri converted the penalty to give the Fire a 2-0 lead.
Sporting Kansas City were then dealt a lifeline when some great combination play from Cameron Duke and Felipe Hernandez led to a Roger Espinoza toe poke past the Fire’s keeper to make the match 2-1 in the 56th minute. After 20 minutes of wide-open play from the Fire and Sporting Kansas City, Walter got caught on the ball in the Sporting Kansas City half and the ball found its way to the Fire’s Brian Gutierrez who crossed to Przybylko to give the Fire a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Player Ratings System
N/A = Didn’t play enough to give a rating
1 = Incredibly poor, unprofessional performance that led to multiple opportunities for opponent
2 = Very poor performance. Consistent mistakes that lead to a few opportunities for opponent
3 = Poor Performance. Several mistakes
4 = Inconsistent play. A few mistakes throughout the game
5 = Solid play. Rare mishaps. Consistent throughout the game.
6 = Above average performance. Player’s play contributed to good results for the team.
7 = Good game. Player’s play led to direct opportunities for the team (defense to offense, offense to chances)
8 = Great game. Player scores, assists, or leads the team with their play on the field. Man of the match type performance.
9 = League best XI performance. Dominant wherever on the field. Among the league’s best.
10 = World class performance. Player’s scores or assists on multiple goals; Play is among the world’s best. Unforgettable.
Tim Melia 3/10
The normally solid, dependable goalkeeper for SKC did not have a good day. Melia let two fairly soft shots from Pryzbylko roll right underneath him for two goals. If he saves those two shots, as he normally would, we would be having a different discussion.
Nicholas Isimat Marin 5/10
Isi regularly broke up Chicago Fire counter attacks and was solid in the air. Also did a good job passing out of pressure throughout the game.
Andreu Fontas 4/10
The normally reliable Fontas was responsible more than a few poor passes and got caught out of position two instances, one that led to a Chicago Fire attack and another that resulted in a yellow card
Kortne Ford 4/10
Ford was understandably inconsistent in his first MLS start since 2018. He did a solid job intercepting long balls in the first half, but regularly let Fabian Herbers get in behind him on runs from the midfield and misplaced several passes. Couple that with penalty he gave up (even if it was soft), and it was a mixed bag for him. He did provide some much-needed support in the attack though with some possession play up top and a couple great long balls.
Graham Zusi 5/10
Decent throughout the game. Reliable in possession and a few dangerous long balls. Helped contribute to what little offense SKC had going.
Ben Sweat 5.5/10
Would’ve gotten a 6 if not for his misplaced pass that led to the goal. Sweat won several aerial duels and did a good job trying to combine with the midfield for some offense. Look for him to snatch some starts from Ndenbe in the near future.
In a game with few opportunities, Espinoza got SKC a goal back with a great toe poke past Slonina. Outside of his goal, Espinoza was everywhere breaking up passes and winning the ball back. Though he didn’t do as well keeping possession, a goal counts for something.
Remi Walter 6/10
Walter was the only SKC midfielder who played well out of the Fire’s midfield pressure. Unfortunately, one of his only errors on the day led to a Fire goal that sealed SKC’s fate. Also won the ball back a ton.
Felipe Hernandez 5/10
Earned an extra point for the great cross on the Espinoza goal, but overall struggled. Did a great job pressing the ball but seemed too slight to keep it when he got the ball back. Fire midfielders passed around him most of the game.
Cameron Duke 5/10
Playing underneath Vujnovic, Duke just couldn’t find, or keep the ball. Won a few crucial free kicks that released some pressure in the first half. Better job in the second half of combining for a couple half-chances.
Nikola Vujnovic 5/10
Didn’t win many aerial duels and like Duke, couldn’t find the ball. When he had a chance to combine, Vujnovic made some good quick decisions to set up teammates in better positions. Still finding his rhythm.
Marinos Tzionis 5/10
Provided as spark as soon he stepped on the field with great combination play and unbalancing of defenders with his dribble.
Logan Ndenbe 4/10
Didn’t really make much of a difference when he came in. Had one moment of combination play with Tzionis late in the second half.
Jake Davis N/A
Good to see the kid getting some minutes. Couldn’t do much with the few minutes he had though.