Another match, another Johnny Russell goal contribution.
Sporting Kansas City endured another night to forget on Wednesday, dropping their second game in four days with a 3-1 setback against Austin FC at Q2 Stadium. The result snapped Sporting’s previously perfect record of 7-0-0 in matches immediately following losses this year.
An upstart Austin side bagged three unanswered goals on Wednesday, striking twice in the first 22 minutes and adding a third on the hour mark, before Sporting’s sizzling hot captain grabbed one back in the 65th minute.
By doing so, Russell extended his club-record streak to 10 regular season matches with a goal or assist—a run that includes 11 goals. Incredibly enough, the 31-year-old winger has become only the sixth player in MLS history to go 10 consecutive games with a goal or an assist in a single regular season.
MOST CONSECUTIVE MATCHES WITH GOAL OR ASSIST
IN A SINGLE MLS REGULAR SEASON
- 15 matches | Josef Martinez | Atlanta United FC | 2019
- 12 matches | Sebastian Giovinco | Toronto FC | 2018
- 11 matches | Roy Lassiter | D.C. United | 1998
- 11 matches | Ronald Cerritos | San Jose Earthquakes | 1997
- 10 matches | Johnny Russell | Sporting Kansas City | 2021
- 10 matches | Raul Diaz Arce | Colorado Rapids | 1997
Russell’s goal contribution streak is the seventh-longest in MLS all-time and a major reason the forward has 15 goals to show for in 2021. After failing to find the back of the net through the first two and a half months of the campaign, he has simply been one of the league’s best players since the turn of July.
Regarding offensive production on the wing, Russell is part of arguably the best and most prolific attacking duo in club history. After all, he and fellow forward Daniel Salloi have combined for 31 goals throughout the 2021 regular season. That total is tied for the most by any two Sporting players in a single campaign. Preki and Digital Takawira combined for 31 goals during the inaugural 1996 MLS season.
TOP-SCORING DUOS IN SPORTING KC HISTORY
(SINGLE MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)
- 31 goals | 2021 | Daniel Salloi (16) and Johnny Russell (15)
- 31 goals | 1996 | Preki (18) and Digital Takawira (13)
- 27 goals | 2014 | Dom Dwyer (22) and Graham Zusi (5)
- 23 goals | 2016 | Dom Dwyer (16) and Benny Feilhaber (7)
- 22 goals | 1998 | Preki (12) and Mark Chung (10)
- 22 goals | 2007 | Eddie Johnson (15) and Scott Sealy (7)
- 22 goals | 2015 | Dom Dwyer (12) and Benny Feilhaber/Krisztian Nemeth (10)
Taking a look at the MLS Golden Boot race, Salloi’s 16 goals are tied for fourth and Russell’s 15 are tied for sixth. Heading into the final fixture of the 2021 regular season on Sunday, both players have remote chances of taking the league lead, currently held by New York City FC’s Valentin Castellanos with 18 goals.
On a closely related note, Russell and Salloi have also chipped in eight assists this year. And with Gadi Kinda assisting Russell’s goal on Wednesday night, the Israeli international joined Sporting’s attacking duo as players with eight assists on the season. Consequently, this marks only the third time ever that Sporting has had three players hit eight assists in the same year. This first took place in 1997 with Preki, Mo Johnston and Mark Chung, and again three years later when Preki, Matt McKeon, Chris Henderson and Chris Klein all had eight or more assists during Kansas City’s 2000 MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield title campaign.
Beyond the scope of 2021, Russell has now entered the top five on Sporting’s all-time goal scoring chart in MLS regular season play. He joins Preki, Dom Dwyer, Davy Arnaud and Josh Wolff as Kansas City players who have crossed the 40-goal plateau for the club.
SPORTING KC LEADING GOAL SCORERS
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)
- 71 goals | Preki | 218 appearances
- 57 goals | Dom Dwyer | 128 appearances
- 43 goals | Josh Wolff | 144 appearances
- 43 goals | Davy Arnaud | 240 appearances
- 40 goals | Johnny Russell | 109 appearances
Lastly, we turn our attention to Sporting center back Andreu Fontas, whose breakout season has helped Manager Peter Vermes’ men stay in or around first place for the duration of 2021. The Spaniard has started in 32 of the club’s 33 matches this year and leads MLS in goals added, an advanced metric that measure’s a player’s on-ball contribution in attack and defense.
Fontas also leads MLS this season in passes, passes successful and touches. More impressively, however, his 2021 totals in each of these three categories have set new single-season MLS records since Opta began tracking the stats in 2010.
MOST PASSES IN AN MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2010
- 2725 passes | Andreu Fontas | Sporting Kansas City | 2021
- 2647 passes | Michael Bradley | Toronto FC | 2018
- 2571 passes | Haris Medunjanin | Phladelphia Union | 2019
MOST SUCCESSFUL PASSES IN AN MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2010
- 2437 successful passes | Andreu Fontas | Sporting Kansas City | 2021
- 2330 successful passes | Michael Bradley | Toronto FC | 2018
- 2182 successful passes | Haris Medunjanin | Philadelphia Union | 2019
MOST TOUCHES IN AN MLS REGULAR SEASON SINCE 2010
- 3071 touches | Andreu Fontas | Sporting Kansas City | 2021
- 3043 touches | Haris Medunjanin | Philadelphia Union | 2019
- 3021 touches | Graham Zusi | Sporting Kansas City | 2018
BREAKING DOWN THE PLAYOFF PICTURE
With 33 games in the rearview mirror, Sporting Kansas City will approach their 2021 regular season finale with tons at stake. Vermes’ men currently occupy second place in the Western Conference on 58 points, one point behind leaders Seattle Sounders FC and level with the Colorado Rapids—although Sporting owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Colorado based on wins.
This means that Sporting can finish anywhere from first to third in the West depending on how results shake out on Sunday. Six Western Conference battles—including Sporting versus Real Salt Lake at Children’s Mercy Park—are scheduled to kick off simultaneously at 5:25 p.m. CT as part of MLS Decision Day, which will see the postseason picture solidify with final seeding for seven teams in both the West and the East.
A first-place finish would require Sporting to stay ahead of Colorado and overtake Seattle, either on total points or on a tiebreaker such as goal differential or goals scored. The top team in the West will receive a first-round bye to the conference semifinals of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. A top-two finish would also see Sporting punch their ticket to the 2022 Concacaf Champions League.
Tickets for Sunday’s all-important Decision Day bout between Sporting (17-9-7, 58 points) and RSL (13-14-6, 45 points) are available at SeatGeek.com while supplies last. Just as Sporting may need a win to finish atop the West, RSL will be equally desperate, as they must achieve victory—and receive help from elsewhere—in order to reach the playoffs.