In a 4-0 thumping of Minnesota United FC that saw several Sporting Kansas City players shine on Wednesday night at Children's Mercy Park, captain Johnny Russell was the man of the match and an obvious inclusion on the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi.
Russell landed his Team of the Week honor alongside Sporting manager Peter Vermes, whose team has secured back-to-back shutout home wins to surge atop the Western Conference standings.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Michael Nelson (HOU) – Christian Makoun (MIA), Alan Franco (ATL), Jonathan Mensah (CLB) – Johnny Russell (SKC), Eduardo “Chofis” Lopez (SJ), Albert Rusnak (RSL), Jader Obrian (DAL) – Ola Kamara (DC), Josef Martinez (ATL), Romell Quioto (MTL)
Coach: Peter Vermes (SKC)
Bench: Bill Hamid (DC), Jose Cifuentes (LAFC), Sebastian Blanco (POR), Djordje Mihailovic (MTL), Jesus Medina (NYC), Ezequiel Barco (ATL), Rubio Rubin (RSL)
In addition to scoring a penalty kick on the stroke of intermission—his third straight home match with a goal—Russell tallied two assists for his first multi-assist game since Sporting’s 2-0 home win over Minnesota on Aug. 25, 2018.
With his scintillating performance on Wednesday, Russell moved to seventh place all-time on Sporting’s regular season goal and assist charts. His 31 goals are tied for seventh with Benny Feilhaber and Mo Johnston, while his 30 assists sit alone in seventh place.
Looking through a broader lens, Russell has staked his name as one of the most prolific attackers in MLS since arriving in Kansas City in 2018. Over the last four years, he is one of just two MLS players—joining LAFC superstar Carlos Vela—with 30 goals and 30 assists in the regular season.
In his first year as the club’s captain, Russell has six goals and six assists this season—one of six MLS players with six and six in 2021 alongside Salloi, Valentin Castellanos of NYCFC, Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC, Nani of Orlando City SC and Albert Rusnak of Real Salt Lake.
Vermes, meanwhile, has overseen an emphatic response from Sporting after the club suffered a heavy road loss to LAFC on Sept. 3. By hammering Chicago and Minnesota in quick succession, Sporting have their sights set on a third first-place finish in the West since 2018.
Sporting have now won 335 regular season matches in club history. Vermes has coached the team in 168 of them, posting a 168-126-100 record. Do the math, and he accounts for over half of Kansas City’s regular season wins dating back to 1996.
With consecutive wins under their belt, Sporting is off this weekend and will return to Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, Sept. 26, for a monumental showdown with second-place Seattle (13-4-6, 45 points) at 6 p.m. CT. Tickets for the marquee matchup are available at SeatGeek.com as a pair of MLS Cup contenders lock horns on FS1 and FOX Deportes.