Sporting KC suffers 1-0 loss to Chicago Fire

Sporting KC remains one point back of first place in Eastern Conference

Kamara vs Fire - DL

Photo Credit: 
Kory Brinton

LIVESTRONG Sporting Park | Kansas City, KS
Attendance: 19,274
Weather: Sunny and 101 degrees
Video: Match Highlights

 

Score                                               

1     

2    

F

Sporting Kansas City (9-5-2, 29 pts)

0  

0    

0

Chicago Fire (8-5-3, 27 pts)

0

1

1      

Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen©; Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Lawrence Olum (Matt Besler 19), Seth Sinovic; Julio Cesar (Peterson Joseph 82), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi; KeiKamara, Teal Bunbury, C.J. Sapong (Soony Saad 72)

Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Michael Harrington, Jacob Peterson, Michael Thomas

Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich (Hunter Jumper 79), Austin Berry, Dan Gargan; Patrick Nyarko (Rafael Robayo 82), Logan Pause©, Chris Rolfe, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa (Alex 64); Dominic Oduro

Subs not used: Jay Nolly, Orr Barouch, Corben Bone, Daniel Paladini

Stats:              

KC

CHI

Shots                

27      

10

Shots on Goal   

5

4

Saves                

3         

5

Fouls                

14   

12

Offside            

2      

2

Corner Kicks    

8  

1

Misconduct Summary:

CHI – Jalil Anibaba (caution; reckless foul) 33
KC – Jimmy Nielsen (caution; dissent) 86
CHI – Chris Rolfe (caution; illegal re-entry) 87

Scoring Summary:

CHI – Marco Pappa 5 (Chris Rolfe 1) 58

Sporting Kansas City lost at home for only the second time this season as the Chicago Fire prevailed 1-0 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Friday. Marco Pappa’s goal in the 58th minute and Sean Johnson’s five saves keep Sporting KC one point back of first place in the Eastern Conference.

Johnson, who posted his second shutout of the season and first in eight games, was tested early on Friday, being called into action in the sixth minute to punch away a dangerous delivery from Graham Zusi off a corner kick from the left side. One minute later, Johnson quickly came off his line to deny Teal Bunbury's run into the penalty area on a long service from Kei Kamara.

Sporting Kansas City continued to pressure in the 13th minute, this time from the right, with Seth Sinovic's cross headed away by Arne Friedrich with Bunbury looming at the backpost.

The first shot on goal of the game came in the 14th minute. Zusi's initial shot was blocked by Austin Berry inside the penalty area and the rebound fell to Kamara, whose first-time attempt was turned away by Johnson.

On the opposite end, Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made his only save of the opening 45 minutes in short succession. Pappa's cross from the endline was met by Dominic Oduro near the penalty spot, forcing Nielsen to react well to block the volley.

Manager Peter Vermes was forced into an early change as Lawrence Olum went off with a strained groin and was replaced by center back Matt Besler.

The home side nearly capitalized on a corner kick at the 24-minute mark. Aurelien Collin rose above his defender and placed a powerful header on frame, but right at Johnson.

Chicago found opportunities to counter, threatening with a long-range shot from DanGargan which rolled wide in the 27th minute. Returning to his left back position, Gargan was muscled off the ball by Kamara two minutes later, however the opportunity went beckoning as the Sierra Leone international sent his shot wide of the near post from an acute angle.

Neither side made any changes after a scoreless first half, and it was Sporting Kansas City who came out of the locker room on the front foot. The Fire dodged a series of close calls in the 47th minute with the ball inside their own area. The final look landed with Kamara, only to see Chicago surround him with five defenders and thwart his attempt to unleash a shot from close range.

Chicago then broke through in the 58th minute, catching Sporting KC with numbers committed forward. Pappa led the counter through the central channel, playing the ball out wide to Chris Rolfe and receiving the ball back in prime position for a first-time shot past Nielsen. The Guatemala international netted his fifth goal of the season, moving into a tie for the team lead, and 25th of his MLS career. Rolfe registered his first assist in his first start since returning from overseas.

Sporting Kansas City were poised to pull even within six minutes on a Zusi free kickfrom the right side. Kamara beat Johnson to the cross but his header went high of the crossbar, one of eight shots on the night for the team's leading scorer.

The Fire gave Brazilian midfielder Alex his debut with 25 minutes to play, though Sporting KC continued to be the aggressors in the attack in search of an equalizer.

In the 71st minute, a free kick for Sporting Kansas City near the right corner was pinballed around and nearly knocked in for an own goal by Friedrich, but Johnson was there for the save.

Five minutes later, an on-target cross from Sinovic to Kamara was nearly headed home, but Johnson made an excellent save, palming the ball out of play for a corner. Collin didn’t waste Zusi’s ensuing corner, getting a head on it but going just wide of the near post.

Oduro took a shot at goal in the 81st minute, but was denied by Cesar with the block.  Seconds later, Rolfe poked the ball ahead, prompting a scramble between Nielsen, Besler and Alex all vying for the ball in a pile of bodies.   

Sporting nearly pulled level in the 88th minute when Sinovic received a slicing cross from Myers on the right and volleyed the ball to Kamara, who headed the ball just wide of the far post.

Chicago responded by nearly netting a second goal, this time Chris Rolfe charging down the left flank and prompting Nielsen to come rushing off his line to deflect the shot.

The final minutes of the match were packed with drama for Sporting Kansas City, with chances coming repeatedly, beginning with a crafty turn and strike from Bunburythat beat Johnson but bounced narrowly wide. He was followed immediately with a shot by second-half substitute Soony Saad that looked like Sporting KC’s saving grace.  

Saad took a thundering shot from ten yards out and on target, however Johnson was there to block the shot and Barry promptly cleared it. The final seconds saw a go at goal from Myers and a last-ditch effort from Besler off of a header, following Johnson’s diving stop on a shot from Kamara, all of which proved futile on a night that Sporting KC tied their season-high with 27 shots.

Sporting Kansas City, who played their fifth match in a 14-day stretch on Friday, will return to the road for their next MLS match, traveling to Montreal to face the expansion Impact at 6 p.m. CT on Wed., July 4 at Stade Saputo. The match will be broadcast live on KSMO-TV.

FAST FACTS:

  • With the loss, Sporting Kansas City’s record moves to 9-5-2 in 2012 and 6-2-0 at home this season. 
  • Sporting KC remains in third place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind D.C. United and New York Red Bulls.
  • Lawrence Olum exited the game in the 19th minute due to a groin strain. Matt Besler entered the match in his place.
  • Marco Pappa scored for Chicago Fire in the 58th minute. It marks his 5th goal of the season and 25th of his MLS career.
  • Pappa’s goal was assisted by Chris Rolfe, his first of 2012. Rolfe started his first match in MLS play since November 2009, having returned from playing abroad earlier this year.
  • Chicago Fire midfielder Alex made his MLS debut in Saturday’s game coming on in the 64th minute for Marco Pappa.
  • Friday’s standing-room only crowd of 19,274 marks LIVESTRONG Sporting Park’s sixth straight sell-out.
  • Tonight’s match was the fifth game in 14 days for Sporting Kansas City. Their record was 2-2-1 during that period.
  • The temperature for tonight’s match was 101 degrees, a season-high for a Sporting KC game this year.
  • Sporting KC forward Kei Kamara led all players on the field tonight with eight shots and three shots on goal.
  • Kamara ranks second in the League for shots (65) behind Fredy Montero and leads MLS with shots on goal with 28.
  • Sporting Kansas City tied their season-high with 27 shots in Friday’s match.
  • Graham Zusi’s eight corner kicks in the match propelled him past David Beckham for most in the League this season with 70.
  • Graham Zusi has attempted 184 corner kicks which is the third most in Sporting KC history. 
  • Sporting Kansas City leads MLS in corner kicks this season with 105. 
  • Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin tied his single-game career high with four shots.
  • Tonight’s loss marks the second loss at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in 2012 for Sporting Kansas City.
  • Tonight’s shutout is the fourth Sporting Kansas City has suffered at home since the opening of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Two of the four have come against Chicago.
  • Chicago won their first road match since beating Chivas USA 2-1 on May 5, 2012.
  • Chicago Fire defender Gonzalo Segares served his one match suspension on Friday for the red card he received in his last match againstColumbus Crew.
  • The loss marks the first time Sporting KC has lost this season when tied at halftime.
  • Sporting Kansas City defender Chance Myers is the only field player to have played every MLS minute this season for Sporting Kansas City.
  • Sporting Kansas City captain and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen has played every MLS minute in net for Sporting Kansas City in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi is the only player to have appeared in every match for Sporting Kansas City in all competitionthis season.
  • Sporting Kansas City winger Bobby Convey missed his fifth straight MLS match with a left calf strain. 
  • Sporting KC defender Lawrence Olum made his fifth straight start tonight in all competition after only playing a total of 13 minutes in 2011. 
  • Friday marked the fifth game of the MLS season that Sporting KC has allowed the first goal. They are 1-4-0 in those matches. 
  • Sporting Kansas City maintained 61.4% of the possession in tonight’s match.
  • Sporting Kansas City’s all-time record moves to 203-204-102 and 66-131-59 at home in the team’s 17-year history.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 33-27-20 all-time in the month of June.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 0-4-0 when scoring zero goals and 3-2-1 when allowing one goal in 2012.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 8-4-1 when playing on a grass surface this season. 
  • Sporting Kansas City is 10-23-9 against Chicago Fire all-time, and 7-8-7 at home in the series.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 3-4-0 against Eastern Conference opponents this season.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 8-4-2 when wearing Sporting Blue.
  • Monster Energy hosted a special BMX stunt show in the Sprint Plaza before and after the match on Friday.
  • Sporting KC's annual media game took place at halftime of tonight's match. Kyle Kurtz of Mix 93.3 scored the game's only two goals. 
  • Sports Radio 810 WHB was broadcasting from the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park Members' Club on Friday, including The Program and Between the Lines. 
  • Friday's match was broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network and locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340 AM.

QUOTES:

Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes

Opening comments on tonight’s match…

I thought the first half was pretty even, both teams had chances. We had a few more but I thought the first half was pretty even. I thought in regards to the second half we were all over them but we had one mistake through the run of play. Too many guys were forward, we weren’t balanced in the back and they had a 3v2 and they executed well. Outside of that I thought we fought very well all the way to the end. I’m proud of the team the way that they went all the way forward all throughout the game. From that respect it was good, unfortunately we came up on the wrong end but it was a good performance we were just on the wrong side of the result.

On the last 10 minutes…

I thought their goalkeeper (Sean Johnson) was very good at the end. I think Soony’s (Saad) shot just was right at him. I thought he made some great saves. He was outstanding tonight. He was big for them. If he’s not on top of his game like that I think it’s a different game but at the end you have to finish and we didn’t. He was very good today.

On Matt Besler…

I was going with the way the game was so we were fine and unfortunately (Lawrence) Olum went down and somebody has to make a move so I think he was dying out there at the end a little bit just as we thought that would be the case but he did a good job hanging in there.

On the heat…

Of course the heat affects them but we had 27 shots so it wasn’t like what we’re trying to do didn’t happen. The difference is we didn’t put it in the back of the net. Like I said through one play of theirs they get a goal. There was a lack of organization on our part in the back because when we went forward the two central defenders were standing there and they see everything in front of them. It wasn’t a planned thing but we were unfortunately being lazy and not getting back and the ball just pops right out to them and they go on the counter. At the end it came down to one play but we had many opportunities to get back in the game.

On being unlucky against Chicago…

I don’t buy into that kind of stuff. Obviously we’ve been snake bitten every time we go to their place with PK’s and red cards but maybe we just need to be a little smarter, who knows.

Sporting Kansas City forward Soony Saad

On Sporting KC’s flurry of chances at the end of the match…

We had a lot of chances. We kept putting the ball in the box because we have a lot of aerial threats. (Aurelien) Collin, Kei (Kamara) and Teal (Bunbury) can all finish. We had some good flick-ons, some really great shots, and their goalkeeper (Sean Johnson) had a great game. He was the man of the match for sure. The shot that I had (in the 94th minute), I really can’t believe that he saved it. He just showed great reflexes, and it was really unlucky for me.

On losing 1-0 to the Chicago Fire…

If you look at the shots, we outshot them 27-10. We were knocking on the door the whole time, and we were all thinking that one was going to go in. And once we got that first one, we were going to push for a winner. But this happens sometimes in soccer. You can shoot as many shots as you can, but if they have a good goalie and get lucky a couple times, you don’t get the breaks.

On having his 94th minute shot saved by Sean Johnson…

(Seth) Sinovic attacked a lot all night, and that time I cut my run back and he found me in the box. So many things were going through my head, but I tried to hit it as hard as I could. I don’t know how Johnson saved it… cat-like reflexes. We’ll get them next time.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza

On Sporting KC’s performance in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire…

We should be playing better. But these losses happen—that’s just soccer. It’s very frustrating. We felt like we had the best of the game, and when you lose there’s just nothing you can do about it. We definitely had our opportunities. I don’t think we played great, but we played better than they did.

On losing for the second time this season to Chicago…

Maybe it’s just our style of play against their style of play. I don’t think they necessarily have our number. They just defended well and it wasn’t our night. Hopefully that will change the next time we play them—we play them one more time.

Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury

On Sporting KC’s performance in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire…

I really feel like we were unlucky. Sean Johnson had a world-class game and came up with some huge saves for Chicago. It’s pretty disappointing because I feel like we outplayed them the majority of the game, but that’s the way it goes. They got one opportunity and they capitalized on it. At the other end, Sean Johnson was an absolute beast and didn’t let anything go by him.

On losing for the second time this season to Chicago…

It’s getting frustrating. All these fans coming out in 100-degree weather, we wanted to put on a show for them. It’s disappointing to let them down, but we’re going to have to regroup and get over this quickly. There are a lot of positives we can take from this game.

On conceding a counter-attack goal…

I feel like that’s how most teams try to play against us, because we’re constantly putting pressure on them. The majority of the time, I feel like we have most of the possession, and one of the ways teams will catch us is through counter attacks. We’ve got to be mentally prepared all over the field for that. It’s not just on the defense—it’s the whole team being organized and in the right place when we’re attacking. We have to stay sharp mentally and be aware of their guys that they have going forward.

On Sporting KC playing its fifth match in 14 days…

I don’t really think that’s impacted us. You want to play a lot of games as players. Obviously it’s really hot, and that can wear on your body. But we’re getting good rest and proper nutrition, and we’re doing the right things to get proper rest.

On Sporting KC’s flurry of chances at the very end of the match…

I thought for sure we were going to get one (goal), if not two. I really thought we were going to be able to pull it off. We had a good mentality throughout the whole game, but we had one error were we got caught on the counter.

Chicago Fire Head Coach Frank Klopas\

Opening comments on tonight’s match…

Obviously from our side it was a very great win. We knew it was going to be a very difficult match. Sporting KC is an excellent team. It’s very difficult to come in here and get points so we felt that they were going to come out and press us. I thought in the first half we had some good moments but I thought that with the ball we weren’t very good. We needed to gain a little bit more possession. I felt that the players looked a little bit fatigued. Obviously we scored a great goal in the second half and we had some other good moments in the game. Obviously they pushed forward and they pressed the game to get the tying goal, and in the end you need an excellent performance from players in order to go on the road. They had some close calls and for the last five minutes all I could do was pray. It was just a great victory.

On Dan Gargan’s play…

Arne Friedrich coming back obviously helped a lot. I thought that some of his defending was fantastic today. He got a little bit tired in the end but I wanted to go into the game with some experienced players. In a place like this, like I said, Sporting KC is an excellent team and we needed Dan’s experience even though he normally doesn’t play on that side. But his ability now and experience to help on the defensive side helped. They went against some great forwards tonight so I was just relying a lot more on his experience.”

On Marco Pappa…

They push numbers forward, we talked a little bit about that in the game in that the transition and the ability to play away from the pressure would help. We wanted to push forward to try to win numbers right away. If the first pass was played away from pressure we would find space. I think the ball just came out and we had numbers forward and then we had transition numbers up 3v2. The timing of the passes and the runs and their decision-making and the quality finish aren’t easy against a quality keeper like (Jimmy) Nielsen. We handled the break very well. We talked about the ability in the transitions to catch them and that was one opportunity that we capitalized on.”

On Chris Rolfe…

He’s been coming on every game and had an impact in every game. Even with the heat I felt that he was very strong. I was a little concerned towards the end because he had a knock back in his ankle so we have to assess that. He’s a key player for us, it’s just technically you can see that he’s a very good player. He has the ability now to beat players off the dribble and create opportunities for himself and others anytime he gets around the goal. He’s just a great finisher, he has great feet. He’s a very good addition for us so hopefully there are no more setbacks.”

Chicago Fire forward Chris Rolfe

Comments on the game…

It felt great. I have been working towards this for a few months now. It’s nice to get a win on the road against such a good team. It’s a great feeling.

On getting the assist…

It was a great counter attack by us. Marco had good composure. Dom (Oduro) spread the defense for us a little bit and Marco (Pappa) put me in at the right time and nobody picked him up so I played it back to him and it ended up looking pretty easy. It was a good goal.

On the goal…

Marco (Pappa) is a great player and you said it, he makes a lot of things look easy that other guys can’t even do. Every decision that he made on that counter attack was the right one and like I said it looked easy but that play is not easy to do.

On three straight victories...

Anytime you can win back-to-back games in this League, it’s a good feat. It is such a competitive league so that doesn’t happen too often for most teams. For us to do that now to start the summer when we really have to grind through the middle of the season, that’s really big for us.

Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson

On ending the game with several big saves…

I think you just try to do your job and make the saves necessary to keep your team in the game. Tonight was one of those nights where I had to make a few more saves than normal but for the first 90 minutes I thought the guys were doing a wonderful job. You know, it was hot out there and under the tough conditions we were still able to stick to our game plan. Hats off to KC. They didn’t stop for a full 90 minutes. They are a fit team and they kept coming and we were able to get the job done.

On the game plan…

Sticking to what we do best. It was hot so we had to move the ball a lot, staying organized and not conceding anything down the middle. We handled crosses well. On set pieces, we were good on the night. There is always room for improvement, but we’ll enjoy this and get back to work. We have a quick turnaround game on Tuesday against a good team in another hot place. We have to refocus now and get back to work.

Shuffling the back line…

I think at any point in time we have to be able to adjust where guys can step in and do a job. Like you saw tonight, Hunter (Jumper) came on and we slid (Daniel) Gargan out to the right. At any point in time we have guys that can play anywhere on the field. That says a lot for our team especially our will and determination to win games. We have a lot of heart and we showed that tonight.

On corner kicks…

We didn’t give up any goals. There were a few times they got in dangerous spots and we have to get back and work on some things but on the night we did what’s necessary to get three points and the shutout is a plus as well. First and foremost three points which we needed against a team in our conference and the shutout for the team. I think we’ve been due for a long time and the guys deserve it. They have worked their balls off for countless games now, finally we get what we deserve.

Chicago Fire forward Marco Pappa

On the team’s chances…

We didn’t have many chances tonight. I think we only had one or two chances and we scored one. We are happy for the result and looking forward to the next game.

On the goal…

I tried to make the right decision to do the right play and I am happy that I was able to score the goal after receiving the pass.

On playing with Guatemala…

After that kind of game you pick up your confidence. You try to come back and do what it best for the team once you get on the field. I feel tired from so many games but still you try and do your best.