On This Day presented by UMKC takes daily strolls down memory lane and celebrates memorable moments in Sporting Kansas City history. As one of Major League Soccer's proud charter members, Sporting has a decorated past full of thrilling victories, amazing goals, momentous off-the-field developments and more. This series pays tribute to these specific instances, turning back the clocks while treating fans to nostalgia and club history lessons. For more, visit SportingKC.com/OnThisDay.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of arguably the best individual performance in recent Sporting Kansas City memory.
Precisely 366 days ago, Johnny Russell’s sensational hat trick lifted Sporting to a 3-2 triumph over Seattle Sounders FC in an absorbing five-goal, Memorial Day Weekend thriller at Children’s Mercy Park.
The Scottish forward became the second player in club history to record multiple regular season hat tricks in a Kansas City uniform, striking twice in the first half and slotting home the 68th-minute winner as Sporting handed the eventual MLS Cup champions a loss in a Western Conference clash that entertained from beginning to end before a nationally televised audience on FS1.
Manager Peter Vermes’ side entered the game winless in seven straight league fixtures, but a spirited performance against the in-form Sounders yielded an invaluable victory for the hosts. Seattle nearly salvaged a point behind Raul Ruidiaz and Kelvin Leerdam's goals midway through the second period, only for their late rally to fall short in the warm Kansas City sunshine.
Russell's third goal of the day made him the second Sporting player—alongside Eddie Johnson in 2007—to net two regular season hat tricks for the club, having previously done so in a 6-0 thrashing of Vancouver Whitecaps FC in April 2018.
Seattle went on to win MLS Cup 2019, but not before suffering yet another 3-2 loss to Sporting last August on home turf. Felipe Gutierrez was the hero of that contest, striking twice in the first half before Erik Hurtado slotted home a late winner.
Coincidentally, May 26 gives Kansas City fans two hat tricks to remember fondly. A dozen years before Russell exploded against Seattle, Johnson bagged his first of two consecutive hat tricks in a barn-burning 4-3 win over the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. The Revs took a quick 2-0 lead, but a Davy Arnaud goal and a Johnson double saw Kansas City claim a 3-2 advantage going into halftime. Shalrie Joseph's penalty kick restored parity after 69 minutes, but Johnson completed his treble and sealed the victory with eight minutes to go.